Venues across globe named after ‘King’ Pelé


Stadiums in Cape Verde and Columbia named after Pelé Image: FIFA

The Bello Horizonte stadium in the Colombian City of Villavicencio is to be named after soccer legend Pelé in response to FIFA boss Gianni Infantino’s recent suggestion that FIFA’s 211 member-associations each name at least one stadium or football venue after the Brazilian legend.

‘FIFA’ stated that the above decision was announced by Juan Guillermo Zuluaga, the Governor of Meta Department (central Colombian Department) where Villavicencio is located.

Zürich (Switzerland)-based FIFA is the international governing body of association football, beach football and futsal. It was founded in 1904 to oversee international competition among the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known mononymously by his nickname Pelé, was a Brazilian professional footballer who played as a forward. Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and labeled “the greatest” by FIFA, he was among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century.

The Estadio Bello Horizonte Rey Pelé is a football stadium located in Villavicencio, Colombia. The stadium, built in 1958, has a capacity to hold 15,000 people.

Remarked Zuluaga, “From the Colombian plains, we announce to the world that our wonderful stadium in Villavicencio will be called Bello Horizonte ‘Rey Pelé’. The future generations should know who this icon of world football was. We have accepted FIFA’s suggestion.”

FIFA President Infantino expressed his gratitude for the initiative which followed the Government of Cabo Verde’s (country in Africa) announcement on January 4th that it intended to name that country’s Estádio Nacional after Pelé, who passed away on December 29th, 2022.

The FIFA chief said, “Thank you, Juan Guillermo Zuluaga and the Government of Meta Department for this beautiful tribute to the eternal King Pelé.”

Estádio Nacional de Cabo Verde (Pelé Stadium) is a multipurpose stadium in Praia, Cape Verde (Africa). Used for football matches, it is home to the Cape Verde National football team. The stadium has an announced capacity to accommodate 15,000 people.

‘FIFA’ further stated that Infantino made his suggestion while attending a memorial for Pelé in Santos, Brazil, on January 2nd. He said it would ensure that future generations around the world would know about Pelé and what he did for football.

FIFA has already decided to name the pitch at the Home of FIFA ‘Estádio Pelé – FIFA Zürich’.

Ode to Pelé

‘’ stated that the Government of Cape Verde decided to honor ‘King Pelé’ by assigning his name to the Estádio Nacional de Cabo Verde, located in Monte Vaca, on the island of Santiago. The announcement was made by the Prime Minister of Cape Verde Ulisses Correia e Silva on his official Facebook page on January 4th.

e Silva justified the above decision by stating that Cape Verde and Brazil have a history and culture “that go hand in hand, considering that they are two sister countries, linked by language and by very similar identities”.

‘’ further stated that e Silva paid rich tributes to Pelé by stating, “Pelé was and will always be a reference in Brazil, in our Portuguese-speaking world and in the rest of the world, an iconic figure that connects several generations. As a tribute to this legendary figure who makes us swell with pride, the Government has decided to name our National Stadium as ‘Pelé Stadium’, an initiative I believe will be taken up by countries across the globe.”

Guinea-Bissau Follow Suit

‘inside the games’ stated that meanwhile, the Government of Guinea-Bissau (country in West Africa) has announced that the stadium in the town of Bafatá (town in Guinea-Bissau) is to be named after Pelé.

The decision was made during a session of the Council of Ministers, headed by President of Guinea-Bissau Umaro Sissoco Embaló.

Added Embaló, “As an expression of the public recognition of his status as the ‘king of world football’, the Council of Ministers has decided that the regional stadium of Bafatá will be given the name Rei Pelé in response to the appeal from the FIFA President.”

Pelé, whose full name was Edson Arantes do Nascimento, won football’s greatest prize, the FIFA World Cup™, in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

‘inside the games’ further stated that Pelé had been in hospital in São Paulo since November 29th for a respiratory infection and what was described as “re-evaluation of the chemotherapy treatment over colon cancer identified in September 2021”.

Pelé scored 77 goals in 92 appearances for Brazil, making him the country’s joint top scorer in men’s international football.

In 1999, he was named the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athlete of the Century, and in 2016, he was presented the Olympic Order by the IOC President Thomas Bach in his home town of Santos.

Bach said in tribute, “With Pelé’s passing, the world has lost a great sporting icon. As I could experience myself, he was a true believer in the Olympic values and a proud carrier of the Olympic Flame. It was a privilege to present the Olympic Order to him.”

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