The Villavicencio stadium will be the first in Latin America to be named after Pelé after his death on December 29. Colombia responded to FIFA’s call to honor the “King” of soccer.
“From the Colombian plain we announce to the world that our beautiful stadium (…) will be called BELLO HORIZONTE ‘REY PELÉ’,” Juan Guillermo Zuluaga, governor of the department of Meta whose capital is Villavicencio, tweeted Wednesday night.
“Future generations should know who this world soccer icon was. We welcome the suggestion” from Fifa, added the local president.
now his own Gianni Infantinopresident of the body that governs global football, spoke about the Colombian initiative.
(In context: Pelé already has a stadium in Colombia: this is the field that will bear his name).
With a capacity of about 15,000 spectators, the public stage inaugurated in 1958 under the name of Bello Horizonte is the home of the Llaneros, a team that plays in the second division of Colombian soccer.
Pelé passed away on December 29 at the age of 82 as a result of colon cancer. In the midst of declared mourning in Brazil, he was buried on Tuesday after a massive 24-hour wake at the Vila Belmiro stadium of Santos FC, the club where he forged his legend.
During the funeral, Fifa president Gianni Infantino asked his 211 affiliated federations to baptize at least one stadium with the name of the only footballer to have won three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970).
“We are going to set an example by renaming the stadium located at our headquarters [en Suiza] as ‘Pelé Stadium-FIFA Zurich’, Infantino said in a message on Instagram.
Colombia is the first country in Latin America to join the FIFA initiative. For this reason, Infantino did not hesitate to write a brief but heartfelt message this Thursday:
“Thanks to the Government of Meta and the Colombian Football Federation for this precious tribute to the eternal king, Pelé”he pointed out in one of his Instagram stories, reacting to the publication of the regional entity.