FIFA President Gianni Infantino found himself in the middle of a controversy after his selfie near Pele’s open coffin got viral on the internet. In the picture, released by the global news agency Reuters, Infantino can be seen taking a selfie, alongside Pele’s former teammates including Lima.
Pele died aged 82 after a long battle with cancer, and his body was kept at the centre of Vila Belmiro stadium, where he played a majority of the match for his boyhood club Santos. Infantino was among thousands of visitors who assembled in the stadium to pay homage to Pele.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the newly elected president, also paid his respect to the legend. The coffin was later taken to Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis, where he was laid to rest in the presence of his family and close friends.
Infantino, however, stated that he is “dismayed” by the criticism, and he took a selfie only upon the request of Pele’s former teammate. “I am dismayed after having been informed that I am apparently being criticized by some people for having taken a selfie and pictures at the ceremony yesterday,” he said.
“I would like to clarify that I was both honoured and humbled that teammates and family members of the great Pele asked me if I could take a few photos with them. And obviously, I immediately agreed,” added Infantino.
Infantino also averred that he won’t do anything that would be disrespectful of Pele in any way whatsoever. “I hope that those who published or said things without knowing and without seeking information could have the decency and admit they were wrong and correct what they said,” he said.
Earlier, Infantino requested all 211 members of FIFA to honour Pele by building a stadium named after him. He also confirmed that the pitch at FIFA headquarters in Zurich will be rechristened to “Estadio Pele — FIFA Zurich.”
“The most important in any case is to pay tribute to King Pele, and whilst I humbly suggested that throughout our 211 member associations at least one football stadium or venue is named after him, we will set the example by giving the pitch in our headquarters the name “Estadio Pele — FIFA Zurich.” Um abraco e viva o Rei!”
Lead Image: Sky Sports