Huge crowd bid farewell to Pele in Brazil
Brazilian soccer legend Pelé will be laid to rest on Tuesday, with his nation of more than 200 million people and the world watching.
Newly inaugurated president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva paid his respects at Vila Belmiro, the stadium where Pelé played most of his career.
Pelé is being buried in the city where he grew up, became famous and helped make it a world capital of his sport.
Mass is celebrated in the Vila Belmiro stadium before the coffin is carried through the streets of Santos to a nearby cemetery.
Geovana Sarmento, 17, waited in line for three hours to see Pele’s body as it lay in repose. She arrived with her father, who was wearing a Brazil jersey with Pele’s name on it.
“I’m not from Santos, neither is my father,” he said. “But this guy invented the Brazil team. He made Santos stronger, he made it great, how can you not respect him? He is one of the best people.” ever, we needed to honor him.”
Caio Zalke, 35, an engineer, wore a Brazil jersey as he waited in line. “Pele is the most important Brazilian of all time. He made the sport important to Brazil and he made Brazil important to the world,” he said.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Pelé was perhaps the most famous athlete in the world.
He met presidents and queens, and in Nigeria a civil war was called off to watch him play.
Many Brazilians credit him with putting the country on the world stage for the first time.
Rows of Pele’s number 10 jerseys were hung behind one of the goals, billowing in the city’s summer winds. A section of the stands was filling with bouquets laid out by mourners and sent by star clubs and players: neymar Y Cristiano Ronaldo among themselves, from all over the world as the speakers played a song called I am pele (“I am Pele”) that Pele himself recorded.
The crowd was mostly local, though some came from far away. Many mourners were too young to have seen Pelé play.
The mood was light as people filtered from the stadium to the local bars wearing Santos FC and Brazil jerseys.
Claudio Carranca, 32, a salesman, said: “I never saw him play, but loving Pelé is a tradition that goes from father to son in Santos. I learned his story, I saw his goals and I see how Santos FC is important because he is “Important. I know some Santos fans have children supporting other teams. But that’s only because they never saw Pelé in action. If they had, they would feel this gratitude that I feel now.”
Among those present at the stadium was Pelé’s best friend, Manoel María, also a former Santos player.
“If I had all the wealth in the world, I could never repay what this man did for me and my family,” Maria said. “He was such a great man as a player; the greatest of all time. His legacy will outlive us all. And you can see that in this long line with people of all ages here.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino told reporters that all countries should name a stadium after Pele.
“I am here with a lot of emotion, sadness, but also with a smile because he gave us so many smiles,” said Infantino. observe a minute of silence”.
Another fan and friend in line was Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes.
“It is a very sad moment, but now we are seeing the true meaning of this legendary player for our country,” Mendes told reporters. “My office has shirts signed by Pelé, a photo of him as a goalkeeper, also signed by him. DVDs, photos, a great collection of him.”
Pelé had been undergoing treatment for colon cancer since 2021.
The medical center where he had been hospitalized said he died of multiple organ failure as a result of the cancer.
Pelé led Brazil to World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970 and remains one of the team’s all-time top scorers with 77 goals.
Neymar tied Pele’s record during this year’s World Cup in Qatar.