Gianni Infantino is “dismayed” at being criticised for taking a selfie in view of Pele’s coffin at the Brazil legend’s wake on Monday.
The only man to win the World Cup three times, Pele’s death was announced last Thursday at the age of 82 after a battle with cancer, having been moved to palliative care in early December.
A 24-hour wake started on Monday with Pele’s coffin on the pitch at the Vila Belmiro stadium, home of his beloved Santos where he scored 643 goals in 659 matches between 1956 and 1974.
Infantino was pictured taking a selfie with Pele’s former team-mates just metres from his coffin, and the FIFA president has subsequently come under fire.
However, Infantino does not understand the negative perception of his actions, saying on Instagram: “Just landed from my trip to Brazil where I had the privilege to participate in the beautiful homage to Pele that took place at Vila Belmiro, in Santos.
“I am dismayed after having been informed that I am apparently being criticised by some people for having taken a selfie and pictures at the ceremony yesterday [Monday].
“I would like to clarify that I was both honoured and humbled that team-mates and family members of the great Pele asked me if I could take a few photos with them. And obviously I immediately agreed.
“In the case of the selfie, Pele’s team-mates asked to do a selfie of all of us together but they didn’t know how to do it. So, to be helpful, I took the photo of one of them and took the photo of all of us for him.
“If being helpful to a team-mate of Pele creates criticism I’m happy to take it and will continue to be helpful wherever I can to those having contributed to write legendary pages of football.
“I have so much respect and admiration for Pele and for that ceremony yesterday [Monday] that I would never do anything that would be disrespectful in any way whatsoever.”