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30 December 2023

Christ the Redeemer statue illuminated with Brazil shirt as tribute to Pele

30 December 2023

Christ the Redeemer was lit up in a Pele shirt among Brazilian tributes to the soccer great on the first anniversary of his death.

Pele died of colon cancer at age 82.

The giant statue which towers over Rio de Janeiro had a projection of a Brazil shirt with Pele’s name and number 10 and a message from Pope Francis. Pele was a devout Catholic.

“Pele, as Mr Edson Arantes do Nascimento became globally known, was undoubtedly an athlete who showed in his life all positive traits of a sportsman,” the pontiff said in a letter as a local orchestra played.

“The memory of the King of Soccer remains indelible in the minds of many, and it stimulates new generations to seek in sport a means to strengthen the bonds of unity among us.”

Religious ceremonies were held at the Museu Pele in Santos, the port city he put on the map with his goals and success for the local team, and in the small city of Tres Coraçoes, where he was born in 1940.

Santos also held a tribute at its Vila Belmiro Stadium, where Edson Cholbi do Nascimento, one of Pele’s sons, released 10 white balloons from the centre circle. Pele’s funeral was at the stadium.

Fifa paid its respects with a video of highlights of the Brazilian great with a message: “Pele’s legacy will always live on.”

Pele is the only man to win the World Cup three times.

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