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FIFA President Gianni Infantino fires back at criticism over selfie near Pelé’s casket

FIFA President Gianni Infantino fired back at the backlash in wake of his poorly timed photograph during Pelé’s public wake on Monday. 

During the ceremony, photographers captured the FIFA boss snap a selfie just a few feet away from where Pele’s body lay at Vila Belmiro Stadium in Santos, Brazil, where the soccer icon played for 18 years. 

In the Reuters photograph, Pelé’s daughter, Kelly Cristina Nascimento, is seen greeting mourners near the casket as Infantino posed for the photo in the background.

Infantino explained the viral moment and posted a different angle of the photo alongside a group of Pelé’s teammates including best friend Manoel Maria.

“I am dismayed after having been informed that I am apparently being criticized by some people for having taken a selfie and pictures at the ceremony yesterday,” Infantino said on Instagram.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino posted a different angle of the viral photo on his Instagram.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino posted a different angle of the viral photo on his Instagram.

“I would like to clarify that I was both honoured and humbled that teammates and family members of the great Pelé asked me if I could take a few photos with them. And obviously I immediately agreed.”

“In the case of the selfie, Pelé’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.”

Soccer fans blasted Infantino for the “classless” photo with many comparing the 52-year-old to disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter. In 2015, Blatter was banned from FIFA activities for ethics violations

“It takes a lot to be worse than Sepp Blatter but Gianni Infantino is running it close,” one Twitter user said.

“Everytime I think Gianni Infantino can’t dig himself an even deeper hole, he somehow manages it,” said another user.

Gianni Infantino said Pelé's teammates didn't know how to take a selfie.
Gianni Infantino said Pelé’s teammates didn’t know how to take a selfie.

Pelé, whose full name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, died on Dec. 29 following multiple organ failure as a result of colon cancer. He was 82 years old.  

More than 200,000 mourners bid a final farewell to Pelé during the public viewing. On Tuesday, the body of the three-time World Cup champion was placed on a firetruck and escorted through an eight-mile procession in Santos before a private funeral ceremony. 

“I have so much respect and admiration for Pelé and for that ceremony yesterday that I would never do anything that would be disrespectful in any way whatsoever.”

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