FIFA president Gianni Infantino
Brazilian Soccer Icon Pelé Dies At 82 Photo by: AFP/Kirill Kudryavtsev

Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, was criticized on Monday after he took a selfie in front of Pelé’s open casket during his public wake on Monday, as he claimed that Pelé’s teammates had asked him to take the selfies during the wake.

Infantino became one of the first to arrive at Pelé’s funeral at Vila Belmiro stadium in Brazil on Monday as the wake was opened to the public, but he received backlash after photos of him taking a selfie in front of the deceased football legend’s casket was spread in social media, according to ESPN.

Infantino was seen taking pictures with some of Pelé’s old teammates in front of his open casket in the background of the viral photo while Pelé’s daughter Kelly Cristina Nascimento was greeting mourners attending to pay their respects, the New York Post reported.

Social media users immediately expressed their disgust at the apparent disrespect to the Brazilian sports treasure: some called the action “classless,” another called it “disgusting,” while one compared him to his controversial predecessor Sepp Blatter by saying that “[he’s] fifty times worse,” Sky News reported.

The FIFA President responded with an Instagram post on the matter, saying that he was “[honored] and humbled that teammates and family members of the great Pelé asked me if I could take a few photos with them” and that “[if] being helpful to a teammate of Pelé creates criticism I'm happy to take it.”

“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,” he claimed.

At the end of the Instagram post, he also proposed that, in tribute to the recently-deceased “King Pelé,” that each of the organization’s 211 member associations name “at least one football stadium or venue” after him, starting with the pitch at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich.

This would not be the only FIFA-related controversy on the matter: many of the current crop of Brazilian football players, like Neymar, Giovanni, or any of the players who was part of Brazil’s World Cup-winning team in 2002 did not attend the funeral, creating widespread backlash over the matter, the Associated Press reported.

Over 200,000 people came to pay their respects to Pelé at the Vila Belmiro stadium on Monday before a procession spanning eight miles went through the city of Santos on Tuesday–after which he was laid to rest at the Ecumenical Memorial Necropolis cemetery.

State police guards in dress uniform carry Pele's coffin
State police guards in dress uniform carry Pele's coffin for his funeral procession. Photo by: AFP/Caio Guatelli

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