An emotional Brazil began Monday paying final respects to football legend Pele with a wake at the stadium where he first stunned the world with his skill. The Vila Belmiro, where Santos, Pele’s longtime team, is located, was slowly traversed throughout the day by thousands of fans and football dignitaries.
As night fell, more people joined the line, waiting for their turn to walk past “O Rei,” or “The King,” who was lying in the middle of the field. The flags of Brazil and Santos were draped over Pele’s coffin, which was surrounded by white flowers, including bouquets from Neymar’s father and Real Madrid players.
Local media reported that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his wife also left a wreath.
Lula’s office had previously made the announcement that he would “pay his respects and tribute” at the wake on Tuesday morning, less than 48 hours after taking office, prior to a funeral procession and burial later that day.
Pele, who won the World Cup three times and is widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all time, passed away on Thursday at the age of 82 following a battle with cancer.
Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, attended the wake with the heads of Brazil’s and South America’s football confederations. He said that the sport’s governing body would ask all member nations to name a stadium after Pele.
“Pele lasts forever. He is a football icon all over the world,” he told journalists in Santos, a port city 75 kilometers (45 miles) from Sao Paulo in the southeast.
To pay tribute to their hero, Carlos Mota and his 12-year-old son Bernardo traveled more than 500 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro.
According to 59-year-old Mota, he was a national hero.
Bernardo clearly absorbed the lesson.
“I’ve seen the videos, but I’ve never seen Pele play.
Vera Lucia, a retiree 75 years old who had traveled from Sao Paulo, was also standing in line, which stretched for two kilometers in the early afternoon.
She stated, “I’m just devastated.” As a family, we have always enjoyed watching his games.”
– Recognitions for ‘timeless’ star –
Conceived Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele detonated onto the scene at age 15, when he made his expert introduction with Santos.
He went on to become the only player in history to win the World Cup three times with Brazil, in 1958, 1962, and 1970.
Since his death, tributes have come from all over the world, with a list of current and former football greats praising his genius for the “beautiful game.”
For the wake, athletes, politicians, dignitaries, and fans are expected to flood Santos, though the New Year’s holiday weekend may reduce attendance slightly.
According to Brazil’s TV Globo, around 7,000 people had already passed the casket by the middle of the afternoon.
Pallbearers in black, led by his son Edinho, carried Pele’s coffin into the stadium.
The late symbol’s widow, Marcia Cibele Aoki, his third spouse, whom he wedded in 2016, cried before his open coffin as she connected with contact his head. She likewise positioned a rosary in his casket.
Brazil, which observed three days of national mourning, has received additional tributes from all over the country.
A huge poster featuring Pele’s image and the words “eternal” can be found in Rio at the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation.
Sunday’s inauguration of Lula also began with a minute of silence in memory of Pele.
Pele’s health had been compromised by kidney issues and colon cancer.
However, he continued to be active on social media, supporting Brazil during the World Cup in Qatar from his hospital bed in Sao Paulo and comforting the pre-tournament favorites when
Tuesday will see a funeral procession through Santos, including a stop at the still-living home of Pele’s mother, Celeste Arantes, who is 100 years old.
Before Pele is buried in a special mausoleum, a Catholic funeral service will be held at Santos’s Memorial Cemetery at the end of the procession.