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Thousands Queue To Say Final Goodbye To Brazil’s Football Legend, Pele At Santos’ Stadium

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Brazilians bid a final farewell this week to football giant Pele, starting Monday with a 24-hour public wake at the stadium of his long-time team, Santos.

The oceanside home of the team nicknamed “Peixe” — “fish” in Portuguese — is expecting a huge influx of fans looking to honor the “King” of football, who died aged 82 on Thursday after a long battle with cancer.

Stadium doors will open at 10:00 am local time (1300 GMT). The coffin bearing the remains of the only player to have won three World Cups will be displayed in the center of the field.

Known as Vila Belmiro after the neighborhood where it is located, the black-and-white stadium has a capacity of 16,000 people.

In the stands, three giant flags could be seen Sunday, one with an image of Pele displaying the famous number 10 on his jersey.

Another bore the message “Long live the king”; the third said simply, “Pele 82 years.”

Entry to the stadium will be allowed until 10:00 am Tuesday, officials said.

After that, a procession will be held through the streets of Santos, a port city about 75 kilometers (47 miles) from the state capital Sao Paulo.

The parade will pass the house of Pele’s mother, 100-year-old Celeste Arantes, who is unaware that her world-famous son has died.

“She doesn’t know,” Pele’s sister Maria Lucia do Nascimento told ESPN on Friday. “She is not conscious.”

The procession will end at a cemetery in Santos, where Pele will be interred in a special mausoleum.

– Tributes to ‘eternal’ star –

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele is widely considered to have been the best player yet of the beautiful game.

His death sparked a global outpouring of tributes, with his native Brazil holding three days of national mourning.

He scored 1,283 goals in a career of 21 years, most of them played at Santos.

Wreaths of flowers left by his fans have brought a splash of color to Vila Belmiro, which houses a bust and a statue of the football great.

Silvio Neves Souza, an electrician on holiday from Sao Paulo, took a moment Sunday to visit the stadium since he will not be able to attend the official ceremony.

“I’m sure a lot of people will come to the wake, not just old people who saw him play, but also young people,” the 54-year-old said.

Elsewhere in the city, banners with Pele’s face decorate another monument erected in his likeness.

“I loved the world with the ball at my feet,” read one sign.

At the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro, a giant poster with Pele’s image bears the word “eternal.”

And at the inauguration on Sunday of Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the ceremony began with a minute’s silence in Pele’s memory.

Military police in Sao Paulo state, where digital street screens also pay tribute to the prolific striker, said there would be a “robust” deployment for the posthumous tributes.

Security will be strengthened at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo ahead of the expected arrival of throngs of athletes, politicians, dignitaries and fans for the wake.

– ‘The King’ –

Pele had been hospitalized at the Albert Einstein Hospital for a month until his death on December 29.

“We were with him” on December 21, his sister recounted. “It was very quiet, we talked a little, but I already sensed that he was feeling it, he already knew he was leaving.”

Born on October 23, 1940, Pele grew up selling peanuts on the street to help his impoverished family.

He got his famous nickname after mispronouncing Bile, the name of a goalkeeper at Vasco de Sao Lourenco, where his footballer father once played.

Pele exploded onto the scene at age 15, when he started playing professionally with Santos.

At just 17, he helped Brazil to its first World Cup championship, in 1958.

That was followed by World Cup titles in 1962 and 1970. The latter marked the pinnacle of his career, as he starred on what many consider the greatest team of all time.

Pele had been in increasingly fragile health in recent years.

He remained active on social media, cheering on Brazil during the World Cup in Qatar and consoling the pre-tournament favorites when they were eliminated in the quarter-finals just three weeks before his death.

AFP

 

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Paul Pogba Receives 4-Year Ban From Football For Doping

Pogba argued that he had ingested the substance accidentally in the hope of receiving a reduced suspension but, as first revealed by La Repubblica, his claims have been rejected and he has now been handed the biggest possible suspension of four years.

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Juventus player Paul Pogba has been banned from football for four years following a failed drug test, according to reports by Italian media.

Pogba tested positive for testosterone earlier this season and was suspended on September 11, 2023, while officials opened an investigation.

Pogba argued that he had ingested the substance accidentally in the hope of receiving a reduced suspension but, as first revealed by La Repubblica, his claims have been rejected and he has now been handed the biggest possible suspension of four years.

Pogba will turn 31 in March and will not be able to return to competitive football until shortly before his 35th birthday. It is understood that his four-year suspension will include the period he has already served on the sidelines and will therefore be lifted in 2027.

Pogba returned to Juventus on a free transfer after his Manchester United contract expired in 2022 but suffered a serious knee injury during the summer which limited him to just ten appearances across all competitions last season, including just one start in Serie A. In total, he has played just 213 minutes for Juventus since returning to the club.

The French midfielder went unused in the first game of the season but was still randomly selected for a doping test after the match. He made two more substitute appearances before the results were confirmed and Pogba was suspended.

He remains under contract with Juventus until 2026. The club have been informed of the court’s decision but are yet to respond publicly.

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Just In: Tinubu Honours Super Eagles, Officials With MON Award

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President Bola Tinubu has conferred the national honour of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) on all Super Eagles team members in appreciation of their performance at the just concluded CAF 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament held in Cote d’Ivoire.

In further recognition of their achievement, the federal government, represented by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)  Nyesom Wike, has granted each member of the team a plot of land as well as a flat with the location yet to be announced.

President Tinubu, who received the national football team, expressed pride in the team, acknowledging their role in fostering unity within the country through their remarkable performance.

Despite finishing second, he encouraged them to hold their heads high and maintain their team spirit.

Troost Ekong, the team’s assistant captain and recipient of the 2023 CAF AFCON Most Valuable Player, expressed gratitude to President Tinubu for his support, expressing a desire to present a trophy rather than silver medals.

Details shortly…

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AFCON 2023: Tinubu To Attend Super Eagles, Ivory Coast Final In Cote d’Ivoire

Mr Motsepe said. “The Nigerian president (Bola Tinubu) is coming to watch the final on Sunday. I will have a conversation with him about it,”

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Dr Patrice Motsepe has confirmed President Tinubu’s intention to grace the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday. 

Mr Motsepe confirmed the development at a press conference held by the CAF supremo in Abidjan on Friday while responding to a question from a journalist asking when Africa can host the FIFA World Cup again.

Responding to a question, Mosepe stated that Vice President Kashim Shettima told him that President Tinubu would come for the final game on Sunday.

“I was with the Vice President (Kasheem Shettima) on Wednesday and he said that Nigeria’s president will come for the final,” Mosepe said.

“Nigeria must put in a bid,” Mr Motsepe said. “The Nigerian president (Bola Tinubu) is coming to watch the final on Sunday. I will have a conversation with him about it,” he added.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles beat South Africa in the penalty shootout on Wednesday to reach the final of this year’s tournament, setting up a final showdown with the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire on Sunday.

Mr Tinubu sent his Vice President, Kashim Shettima, to Côte d’Ivoire to represent him in the game against South Africa, having just been back a few days earlier from a trip to France but will be present at the stadium on Sunday for the final.

Before now, many government officials and dignitaries from Nigeria have come to Cote d’Ivoire to support the Super Eagles.

Notable among them are Vice President Kasheem Shettima, Senate President Godswill Akpabio, Kwara State Governor Rasaq Abdul Rahman and Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun.

 

 

 

 

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