More Than 230,000 Attended Pele's Wake But Many Brazilian Stars Were Absent

More Than 230,000 Attended Pele’s Wake But Many Brazilian Stars Were Absent

January 4, 2023
Dom Challis

On Monday 2 January, the late Pelé had been laid to rest for 24 hours in the center of the Santos FC Urbano Caldeira stadium, the club where Pelé spent the majority of his career. Thousands came to pay their respects for the three-time World Cup winner, but unfortunately some big Brazilian names were absent. 

After the 24 hour wake, people crowded the streets of Brazil on Tuesday 3 January as Pelé‘s coffin, covered with a Brazilian flag, was carried on a fire truck through the packed roads of fans to a private family funeral.

Pelé died at the age of 82 on 29 December after receiving treatment for colon cancer since 2021. He was arguably the world’s greatest ever footballer and is known as “The King” in Brazil.

Brazil’s government announced three days of national mourning after his death, while the country’s new president as of 1 January – Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, travelled to Santos to pay his respects.

Unfortunately, some notable Brazilian players who may have been expected to make an appearance, where nowhere to be seen.

As thousands of people waited for hours under the scorching sun on Monday to get a glimpse of the legendary footballers coffin, big names such as Ricardo Kaká, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior and Ronaldo Nazario have received criticism for not attending. 

José Ferreira Neto, a former player for Brazil and Santos’ archrivals Corinthians who is now a TV presenter in Brazil, had this to say about the absent individuals: “Anyone can put a photo of Pelé on their Instagram, would it cost you to have given up two days of your holidays?”

Not many players who played alongside Pelé during the dominant Santos team of the 1960s could of made it considering their current age and poor health.

Clodoaldo Tavares de Santana was the only player from the legendary 1970 Brazil team to appear. 

No one who played for Brazil when they won their fifth and most recent World Cup title in 2002 made an appearance, while only one of the victorious 1994 Brazil side turned up – Mauro Silva, who’s now vice-president of the São Paulo football federation. 

Kaká was one of the most controversial absences as the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner said in December that Brazilians didn’t show enough respect for their national heroes. 

Walter Casagrande Júnior, a Brazilian columnist said: “Well, Kaká, after what we saw at Pelé‘s wake, it’s clear that it is you who don’t recognise major heroes.”

Many have pointed out that David Beckham queued for hours to see the queen when she passed, while Brazilian players didn’t even show up to receive special access through Santos’ stadium to see the Brazilian icon.

Whatever the reasons, seeing almost a quarter of a million people turn up to crowd the streets of Brazil to show their respects for Pelé must of been a beautiful sight.

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