A stadium in the Colombian city of Villavicencio (south) will be the first in Latin America to be named after Pele after his death on December 29. The country responded to FIFA’s call to honor the “King” of soccer.
“From the Colombian plain we announce to the world that our beautiful stadium (…) will be called BELLO HORIZONTE ‘REY PELÉ’,” Juan Guillermo Zuluaga, governor of the department of Meta whose capital is Villavicencio, tweeted Wednesday night.
“Future generations must know who this icon of the football world. We welcome the suggestion” from FIFA, added the local president.
With a capacity of about 15,000 spectators, the public stage inaugurated in 1958 under the name of Bello Horizonte is the home of the Llaneros, a modest team that plays in the second division of the football Colombian.
Pelé passed away on December 29 at the age of 82 as a result of colon cancer. In the midst of declared mourning in Brazil, he was buried on Tuesday after a massive 24-hour wake at the Vila Belmiro stadium of Santos FC, the club where he forged his legend.
During the funeral, FIFA president Gianni Infantino asked his 211 affiliated federations to name at least one stadium after the only footballer to have won three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970).
“We are going to set an example by renaming the stadium located at our headquarters [en Suiza] as ‘Pelé Stadium-FIFA Zurich’, Infantino said in a message on Instagram.
Colombia is the first country in Latin America to join the FIFA initiative. In the Brazilian city of Maceió (northeast) there has been the Rei Pelé stadium, better known as Trapichão, since 1979.
Cape Verdean Prime Minister José Ulisses Correia e Silva announced on Wednesday that the 15,000-seat National Stadium in Praia will be renamed the Pelé Stadium.
Infantino’s proposal adds to other tributes that Edson Arantes do Nascimento received in Brazil: the avenue next to the mythical Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, where he scored his 1,000th goal, will be renamed with his name.
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