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Massive crowds pay last respects as Brazilian football icon Pelé is laid to rest in Santos, Brazil

Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2023. 1:01 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Brazil’s most revered football icon Pelé, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was laid to rest in the highest vertical cemetery in the world in Santos, Brazil, on Tuesday amidst thousands of mourners who turned out to pay their last respects.

In honour of his father Dondinho, who wore the number 9 on his football jersey when he played football, Pelé decided to be laid to rest in the ninth story of the Memorial Necrópile Ecuménica Cemetery in the Port city of Santos in Brazil. The 14-floor vertical cemetery has space for 14,000 bodies, features a 24-hour restaurant, a chapel, a car museum, and a fishpond. There, Pelé will lie in sight of Santos’ Urbano Caldeira Stadium, popularly known as the Vila Belmiro Stadium, where he played for many years for his team Santos, which he made popular around the world.

Pelé, known also as O Rei (The King), was Brazil’s most popular personality worldwide. He is widely considered the best football player ever.

Pelé’s funeral lasted two days, starting on Monday when his body was taken to the Vila Belmiro Stadium in Santos. According to Brazilian sources, more than 230,000 fans went to see him as his body arrived in Santos from Sao Paulo to Santos, at the stadium, and during the funeral procession from the stadium to the Memorial Necrópile Ecuménica Cemetery. Draped in the Brazil National Flag, Pele’s casket was carried on a fire engine as is traditional of Brazilian official parades. When the seven-mile procession, that went from the stadium to the cemetery, passed by his mother’s house, a minute of silence was observed, as Doña Maria Celeste prayed.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were among the dignitaries who attended the funeral to pay their respects.

“Pelé is eternal,” Infantino said to reporters. “FIFA will certainly honor the ‘king’ as he deserves.”

“Pele is incomparable, as a football player and as a human being,” President Lula said.

Pelé died last Thursday of multiple-organ failure after being hospitalized for a month in Sao Paulo suffering from complications of colon cancer. He had undergone a surgical operation due to that cancer in 2021.


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