By Mauricio Savarese, The Associated Press on December 30, 2023.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Christ the Redeemer was lit up in a Pele shirt among Brazilian tributes to the soccer great on the first anniversary of his death on Friday.
Pele died of colon cancer at age 82.
Christ the Redeemer had a projection of a Brazil shirt with Pelé’s name and number 10 and a message from Pope Francis. Pelé was a devout Catholic.
“Pelé, 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 Pelé in Santos, the port city he put on the map with his goals and success for Santos club, and in the small city of Tres CoraçÃµes, where he was born in 1940.
Santos also held a tribute at its Vila Belmiro Stadium, where Edson Cholbi do Nascimento, one of Pelé’s sons, released 10 white balloons from the center circle. Pelé’s funeral was at the stadium.
FIFA paid its respects with a video of highlights of the Brazilian great with a message: “Pelé’s legacy will always live on.”
Pele is the only man to win the World Cup three times.
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