In a funeral procession, the body of Brazilian football legend Pelé was brought through the port city of Santos. The coffin was laid out on the roof of a fire truck and was escorted by several police vehicles, TV Globo showed on Tuesday. Crowds lined the streets to cheer the funeral procession and wave flags from Pele’s long-time club FC Santos. The procession was also scheduled to pass through the neighborhood where Pelé’s 100-year-old mother lives.
Thousands of fans had said goodbye to Pelé in the Santos stadium. The corpse of the world star had been laid out in the center of the Estádio Urbano Caldeira for 24 hours. By Tuesday morning, more than 150,000 fans had passed the coffin, according to the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. Among others, the Brazilian head of state Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and FIFA President Gianni Infantino paid their last respects to the exceptional player.
Infantino caused a stir with a selfie. The Swiss took a picture of himself with the former Santos professional Lima using his smartphone – not far in front of them was the coffin with Pelé laid out in the Vila Belmiro stadium.
During his visit on Monday, Infantino said FIFA would ask all 211 football associations around the world to name a stadium after Pele. “The children, the coming generations around the world, need to know who Pelé was. And if in 30, 50, 100 years they score a goal in a stadium named after Pelé and ask who he was, we can say: he was the greatest and he moved us,” said Infantino.
The funeral procession led to the high-rise cemetery Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica. Pelé was to be buried there with his family. The resting place in the Marapé district has around 16,000 tombs on 14 floors. “It’s a place that exudes peace of mind and calm, where you don’t feel depressed and doesn’t even look like a graveyard,” Pele once said in an interview.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, as the striker was called by his full name, died of cancer on Thursday at the age of 82. He shaped football like no other and was already a legend in his lifetime. With 77 goals in 92 international matches, Pelé is still the record goalscorer for the Seleção, the Brazilian national soccer team – along with his 30-year-old compatriot Neymar, who also has 77 goals.