FIFA President Gianni Infantino says he is ‘dismayed’ by the backlash he has received after taking a selfie next to Pele’s open casket during the funeral service for the Brazilian football legend on Monday.
Infantino was among the thousands that flocked to Sao Paulo’s Vila Belmiro stadium to pay their respects to Pele, who died last week at the age of 82. However, the 52-year-old was criticized after being caught posing for a selfie mere yards from Pele’s casket.
‘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. Infantino posted on Instagram.
‘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 teammates and family members of the great Pele asked me if I could take a few photos with them. And obviously I immediately agreed.
He continued, ‘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.
‘The most important in any case is to pay tribute to King Pele, 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 “Estadio Pele – FIFA Zurich”. Um abraco e viva o Rei!’
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