Pelé’s funeral procession passes through Santos, President Lula pays respects

© Andre Penner, AP

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was among 230,000 mourners to view Pele's open casket in Santos, where some fans shed silent tears and others gave the Brazilian soccer star rousing cheers as they filed through the costal city's stadium.

A 24-hour memorial service at the Vila Belmiro stadium for Pele, who died last week at the age of 82 after battling colon cancer for a year, ended on Tuesday morning and his casket was taken in a procession through the city for private burial.

It halted outside the home of his 100-year-old mother, where crowds lining the streets applauded. Pele's sister watched in tears from a balcony.

"Pele is incomparable, as a soccer player and as a human being," said newly sworn-in President Lula who arrived by helicopter at the stadium on Tuesday morning. He stood for about 30 minutes next to Pele's casket, draped with a Brazilian flag, in the center of the soccer field.

People had formed long queues outside the stadium in Santos, the city where Pele lived for most of his life, and waited for up to three hours to pay their respects even overnight, according to Santos Football Club.

"Long live the king," a giant banner read inside the stadium. Dubbed the 'king of soccer,' Pele played for Santos from 1956 to 1974, scoring more than 1,000 goals.

Lula comforted Pele's family members and listened to a Catholic ceremony alongside First Lady Rosangela da Silva.


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