Gianni Infantino is ‘alarmed’ by criticism for taking a selfie in front of Pele’s coffin at the Brazilian legend’s wake on Monday.
Pelé, the only man to win the World Cup three times, passed away last Thursday at the age of 82 after battling cancer when he was transferred to the palliative care unit in early December.
The 24-hour commemoration began on Monday with Pelé’s coffin on the pitch of the Vila Belmiro stadium, home of his beloved Santos, where he scored 643 goals in 659 matches between 1956 and 1974.
Infantino was photographed taking a selfie with Pelé’s former teammates just meters from his coffin, and the FIFA president was subsequently criticized.
However, Infantino does not understand the backlash against his actions, stating on Instagram: “Just landed from a trip to Brazil where I had the honor of taking part in a beautiful tribute to Pele held at Vila Belmiro in Santos.
“I am dismayed after being informed that some people are apparently criticizing me for taking selfies and photos at the ceremony yesterday. [Monday].
“I would like to clarify that it was an honor and humility for me that the teammates and members of the family of the great Pele asked me if I could take some photos with them. And, obviously, I immediately agreed.
“For selfies, Pele’s teammates asked for selfies of all of us together but didn’t know how. So to be helpful, I took a picture of one of them and took a picture of all of us for him.
“If helping teammate Pele is criticized, I will gladly accept it and will continue to help in any way I can to those who have contributed to writing the legendary pages of football.
“I have a lot of respect and admiration for Pele and yesterday’s ceremony. [Monday] that I would never do anything that would be disrespectful in any way.”