Pelé’s wife, fans mourn Brazilian soccer legend at Santos stadium

SANTOS, Brazil – Mourners began paying their respects to Pelé in a solemn procession past his coffin at the Vila Belmiro Stadium in his hometown of Santos on Monday.

The Brazilian soccer great died Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was 82.

Pelé’s coffin was placed on the field where he scored some of the best goals of his career. Mourners, including Pelé’s wife, Marcia Aoki, walked past his casket in the 16,000-seat stadium outside Sao Paulo. His burial will take place in a cemetery only 600 meters away on Tuesday.

Fans arrived at the stadium in the early hours of Monday to honor Edson Arantes do Nascimento, globally known as Pelé.

Marcia Aoki, the widow of Brazilian soccer great Pele, mourns over his body that lies in state at Vila Belmiro stadium during his wake in Santos, Brazil on Jan. 2, 2023.


FIFA President Gianni Infantino (L) greets the wife of Brazilian football legend Pele, Marcia Aoki (R), during his wake at the Urbano Caldeira stadium on Jan.  2, 2023.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (L) greets the wife of Brazilian football legend Pele, Marcia Aoki (R), during his wake at the Urbano Caldeira stadium on Jan. 2, 2023.


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FIFA President Gianni Infantino (L) greets the wife of Brazilian football legend Pele, Marcia Aoki (R), during his wake at the Urbano Caldeira stadium on Jan.  2, 2023.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (L) greets the wife of Brazilian football legend Pele, Marcia Aoki (R), during his wake at the Urbano Caldeira stadium on Jan. 2, 2023.


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One of them was Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes.

“It is a very sad moment, but we are now seeing the real meaning of this legendary player to our country,” Mendes told journalists. “My office has shirts signed by Pelé, a picture of him as a goalkeeper, also signed by him. DVDs, photos, a big collection of him.”

Funeral workers uncover the coffin of the late Brazilian soccer great Pele as he lies in state on the pitch during his wake at Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos, Brazil on Jan.  2, 2023.

Funeral workers uncover the coffin of the late Brazilian soccer great Pele as he lies in state on the pitch during his wake at Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos, Brazil on Jan. 2, 2023.


The coffin with Brazilian soccer great Pele lies on display on the pitch of the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos, Brazil on Jan. 2, 2023.


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Edinho touches the forehead of his father, Brazilian soccer great Pele, during his funeral at the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos, Brazil on Jan.  2, 2023.

Edinho touches the forehead of his father, Brazilian soccer great Pele, during his funeral at the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos, Brazil on Jan. 2, 2023.


The coffin with Brazilian soccer great Pele is carried on the pitch of the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos, Brazil on Jan.  2, 2023.

The coffin with Brazilian soccer great Pele is carried on the pitch of the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos, Brazil on Jan. 2, 2023.


The coffin with Brazilian soccer great Pele is carried to the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos, Brazil on Jan.  2, 2023.

The coffin with Brazilian soccer great Pele is carried to the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos, Brazil on Jan. 2, 2023.


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Mourners pay their respects as they pass the casket of Brazilian soccer legend Pele as he lies in state on the pitch of his former club Santos' Vila Belmiro stadium on Jan.  2, 2023.

Mourners pay their respects as they pass the casket of Brazilian soccer legend Pele as he lies in state on the pitch of his former club Santos’ Vila Belmiro stadium on Jan. 2, 2023.


Mourners lined up outside the stadium to pay their respects to Pelé on Jan.  2, 2023.

Mourners lined up outside the stadium to pay their respects to Pelé on Jan. 2, 2023.


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Mendes also said Pelé was a humble man despite his global fame, and that he deserves every tribute.

Pelé’s casket will be ushered through the streets of Santos before his burial. Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and other dignitaries are expected to attend.

Pelé died on Thursday at the age of 82 after a battle with cancer.


Pelé celebrates winning the 1970 World Cup with his Brazil teammates.

Pelé celebrates winning the 1970 World Cup with his Brazil teammates.


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Pelé had undergone treatment for colon cancer since 2021. The medical center where he had been hospitalized said he died of multiple organ failure as a result of the cancer.

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