Gianni Infantino: FIFA boss wants all nations to name a stadium after Pelé

Gianni Infantino talks to Steve Scott outside the Vila Belmiro Stadium, where Pelé's coffin has been placed for 24 hours

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said he wants every nation on earth to name a football stadium after the late Brazilian football icon Pelé.

The football legend died on Thursday, aged 82, after suffering with colon cancer.

Mr Infantino, who travelled to Pelé's hometown of Santos in order to honour the star, described the footballer's skill as a "gift from God".

FIFA President Gianni Infantino gives his condolences to Marcia Aoki, the widow Pele, at Vila Belmiro stadium. Credit: AP

"We have asked all our associations around the world to hold a minute of silence for him, but we will do more than that," Mr Infantino told ITV News.

"I want every country in the world to name one of its stadiums or football fields after Pelé. Everywhere in the world. Because it's important that children in 20 years, 50 years, 100 years from now remember who Pelé was.

"He was the first in many things and we need to remember him in a stadium where goals are being scored, where emotions are being felt, because that was exactly the skill that Pelé had.

"It's a gift of God to be able to gift people with emotions. I think it is unique and we have to thank him for that."

Steve Scott reports from Brazil, where football fans have been paying their respects to Pelé

Mourners began paying their respects to Pelé in a solemn procession past his coffin at the Vila Belmiro Stadium in Santos on Monday.

The 16,000-seat stadium, just outside Sao Paulo, is where Pelé scored some of his best goals.

Mr Infantino gave his condolences to Marcia Aoki, Pelé's widow, at the stadium.

Mr Infantino described the event as "emotional" but added it was important that FIFA paid tribute to the footballer.

"I think it is an absolute honour for me to be here as FIFA President to pay tribute to the great king," he said.

"FIFA has to be here. The world of football has to be here. Pelé is an icon of football. He has marked so many hearts of so many people all over the world."

Pele was one of the greatest footballers of all time. Credit: AP

Pelé helped his national side to four World Cup finals and is the only player to win the tournament three times, which he did between 1958 and 1970.  

In Brazil, he was known simply as 'O Rei' - The King - and is considered a national hero.

His funeral is scheduled to start on Tuesday morning, at 10 am local time. The burial will take place in a nearby 'vertical cemetery' - a multi-storey building used to house the dead in some densely-populated countries.

Fans queuing up to pay their respects. Credit: AP

Brazil's president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and other dignitaries are expected to attend.

Pelé had undergone treatment for colon cancer since 2021.

The medical centre where he had been hospitalised said he died of multiple organ failure as a result of the cancer.

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