Gianni Infantino: FIFA Boss ‘dismayed’ After Coming Under Fire For Taking Selfie Near Pele’s Open Coffin
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said he is “dismayed” after he was criticised for taking a selfie near Pele’s body as he lay in state.
A photo, released by the Reuters news agency, showed the most powerful man in world football holding up a mobile phone as he stood next to some of the Brazilian great’s former team-mates, including Lima.
Just in front of them in the image is the body of Pele, lying in an open coffin at the stadium of his former club Santos before he was laid to rest.
Sky News has included the image below but has cropped it so Pele is not visible.
Responding to the criticism as he tried to diffuse the controversy, Infantino wrote on Instagram that Pele’s team-mates “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.”
He added: “If being helpful to a team-mate of Pele creates criticism I’m happy to take it and will continue to be helpful wherever I can to those having contributed to write legendary pages of football.”
His Instagram statement was accompanied by two photos of him and Pele’s team-mates, including one that was a selfie.
“I have so much respect and admiration for Pele and for that ceremony yesterday that I would never do anything that would be disrespectful in any way whatsoever,” Infantino said.
Among the criticism on social media, the head of world football’s governing body was labelled by some Twitter users as “classless”, a “disgrace”, “horrible” and “disgusting”.
Another user, comparing him to his predecessor Sepp Blatter who led a corruption-hit FIFA but was cleared of corruption himself, wrote: “Thought it couldn’t get any worse than Blatter. He’s fifty times worse.”
Someone on Twitter even called for Infantino to be arrested.
Pele, originally named Edson Arantes do Nascimento, died on Friday aged 82 after a battle with colon cancer.
The star, widely considered as the greatest footballer of all time, will be buried today in the Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis cemetery overlooking the Santos stadium.