FIFA president defends himself after being criticised for selfie in Pele’s funeral


Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, has come under fire for taking a photo close to Pele’s casket during the Brazilian legend’s funeral.

Infantino traveled to Brazil along with tens of thousands of others to pay their respects to Pele, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 82 after a battle with colon cancer.

The legendary forward will be buried on Tuesday following a 24-hour wake during which his casket was kept on a makeshift structure on the field of his former team, Santos.

After being photographed taking a selfie with some of Pele’s friends and family within a few yards from the open casket, Infantino received a ferocious criticism online.

Infantino, though, asserted that he was merely assisting some of Pele’s pals who, he insisted, “did not know” how to take a selfie in a lengthy social media statement. The FIFA president wrote:

“Just landed from my trip to Brazil where I had the privilege to participate in the beautiful homage to Pele that took place at Vila Belmiro, in Santos.

“I am dismayed after having been informed that I am apparently being criticised by some people for having taken a selfie and pictures at the ceremony yesterday. I would like to clarify that I was both honoured and humbled that team-mates and family members of the great Pelé asked me if I could take a few photos with them. And obviously, I immediately agreed.

“In the case of the selfie, Pele’s teammates asked to do a selfie of all of us together but they didn’t know how to do it. So, to be helpful, I took the phone of one of them and took the photo of all of us for him. If being helpful to a teammate of Pele creates criticism I’m happy to take it and will continue to be helpful wherever I can to those having contributed to write legendary pages of football.

“I have so much respect and admiration for Pele and for that ceremony yesterday that I would never do anything that would be disrespectful in any way whatsoever. I hope that those who published or said things without knowing and without seeking information could have the decency and courage to admit they were wrong and correct what they said.”

Infantino concluded by saying that FIFA planned to rename the stadium located inside their offices in Switzerland in honor of the illustrious forward.

Just 24 hours before, Infantino had proposed that all 211 national football organisations rename a stadium in Pele’s honor.

The statement concluded:

“The most important in any case is to pay tribute to King Pelé, 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 ‘Estádio Pelé – FIFA Zürich’. Um abraço e viva o Rei!”

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