Brazilian city of Santos bids farewell to 'king of soccer' Pele
Send a link to a friend
[January 02, 2023]
By Lais Morais and Eduardo Simões
SANTOS, Brazil (Reuters) - The Brazilian coastal city of Santos,
which sporting giant Pele turned into a byword for soccer brilliance
during a glittering club career, prepared to bid goodbye to its hero
on Monday with a 24-hour wake.
A memorial will be held for Pele, who died on Thursday at the age of
82 after battling colon cancer, at the Vila Belmiro stadium, the
home of Santos Football Club.
"The expectation is huge, the whole world will be here," said local
fan Roberto Santos. "Pele needs no presentation. Pele for us is
Edson Arantes do Nascimento - Pele's given name - was born in 1940
in the small country town of Tres Coracoes, but moved to Santos in
1956 and lived there for most of his life.
"Pele leaves millions of Santos fans across our country. He was the
creator of Brazilian soccer," said fan Antonio da Paz, waiting
outside the stadium for the memorial set to begin at 10 a.m. (1300
Pele's body arrived under fireworks in Santos - a city of about
430,000 people - in the early hours of Monday from Sao Paulo's
Albert Einstein Hospital. On Tuesday, a procession carrying his
coffin will pass through the streets of Santos, ending at the
Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis cemetery, where he will be buried in
a private ceremony.
Santos' press office said some 5,000 journalists from all over the
world had been accredited to cover the wake of the only man to win
the World Cup three times as a player, who also scored more than
1,000 goals for Santos.
[to top of second column]
A man takes a picture of the vehicle transporting Brazilian soccer
legend Pele's body, at the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos, Brazil,
January 2, 2023. REUTERS/Diego Vara
People started gathering outside the stadium on Sunday, taking
pictures next to a statue of Pele.
Street vendors were selling Santos and Brazil jerseys with his name.
Inside the stadium, the structure for the wake was ready amid
messages such as "Long live the King" and "The only man to stop a
Several authorities are expected to attend the memorial, including
newly sworn-in Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Vice
President Geraldo Alckmin - a longtime Santos supporter - and FIFA
President Gianni Infantino.
Sao Paulo state military police said in a statement they had
prepared a special operation called the "King Pele Operation" to
ensure public order.
"I'll be here all day, 24 hours, from 10 a.m. to 10 a.m.," fan
Roberto Santos said. "Pele deserves it".
(Additional reporting by Diego Vara; Writing by Gabriel Araujo;
Editing by Nick Macfie)
[© 2023 Thomson Reuters. All rights
This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.