Thousands of soccer fans are mourning and paying their respects to Pele, the Brazilian soccer legend, at the home of his former club, Santos.
The Brazilian club’s Vila Belmiro stadium is where the coffin of the three-time World Cup champion was brought to lie in state for twenty-four hours.
The sports legend, known as “The King” of soccer, passed away last Thursday at the age of eighty-two after a prolonged battle with colon cancer.
Pele’s given name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento. He spent the vast majority of his career at Santos, a São Paulo soccer team.
He appeared in 656 games at the highest level for the team, contributing to their success and winning of various awards, including six Brazilian league titles.
Burial of Pele
Pele will be laid to rest at the Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica, a fourteen-story vertical cemetery in Santos, São Paulo, on Tuesday. Only his family will be present at the funeral there.
Due to Pele’s widespread popularity both in Brazil and globally, millions of fans are expected to arrive in Santos in the coming days.
Crowds of mourners filled the streets and spent the night outside of the Vila Belmiro stadium to pay their respects to the world’s greatest soccer player of all time.
Assim como sempre desejou, o nosso eterno Rei Pelé se despede na Vila Belmiro, sua casa, junto de seu povo. pic.twitter.com/Jnft6ujOop
— Santos FC (@SantosFC) January 2, 2023
Justice of the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court, Gilmar Mendez, was among those who came to pay their respects to Pele.
“It is a very sad moment, but we are now seeing the real meaning of this legendary player to our country,” Mendes told journalists.
“My office has shirts signed by Pele, a picture of him as a goalkeeper, also signed by him,” he said, and there are also “DVDs, photos, a big collection of him.”
According to Mendes, Pele was quite humble despite his international fame, and he is undoubtedly very deserving of all the praise he has gotten and continues to get now.
“The expectation is huge; the whole world will be here,” said local fan, Roberto Santos. “Pele needs no presentation. Pele for us is everything.”
He added that he would “be here all day, 24 hours, from 10 am to 10 am. Pele deserves it.”
Brazilian fans paid final respects to soccer legend #Pelé at a stadium in his hometown where he scored some of the best goals in his career.
Pelé – who regularly faced racism – is the only player to have won three World Cups.
He died of complications from colon cancer at 82. pic.twitter.com/9l3SgXXiKp
— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 2, 2023
The recently inaugurated Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and Vice President Geraldo Alckmin, both of whom are passionate supporters of Santos, are also likely to attend the memorial.
FIFA President pays tribute
FIFA President Gianni Infantino walked out onto the field to pay his respects. Infantino announced on Monday the organization would request that every nation dedicate a stadium to Pele.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino says he will ask 'every country in the world' to name a football stadium after Pelé! 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/3bYPAx9quw
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) January 2, 2023
He described Pele as an “exemplary sportsman” and added that “Pele had a magnetic presence, and when you were with him, the rest of the world stopped.”
“His life is about more than football,” Infantino maintained. “He changed perceptions for the better in Brazil, in South America, and across the world. His legacy is impossible to summarize in words.”
Throughout the weekend of Premier League matches in England, tributes were held at each and every game.
"UM ESTÁDIO EM CADA PAÍS DO MUNDO COM O NOME DE PELÉ". 🏟️ Gianni Infantino, presidente da FIFA disse que pedirá para que cada federação filiada homenageie Pelé com seu nome em um estádio. #PeléEterno 👑 pic.twitter.com/HYRcDlkRQv
— TNT Sports BR (@TNTSportsBR) January 2, 2023