The FIFA boss is dismayed by the criticism he faced from social media users for his selfie
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has pushed back against backlash of selfies taken at the funeral of late Brazilian footballer, Pele, defending his decision to do so.
The football governing chief received heavy backlash on social media after he was spotted taking the pictures near the coffin of the deceased footballer.
Pele, named initially Edson Arantes do Nascimento, died on Friday aged 82 after a battle with colon cancer.
Addressing the criticism after the burial at Urbano Caldeira Stadium on Tuesday, Infantino said he was “dismayed”.
“Just landed from my trip to Brazil, where I had the privilege to participate in the beautiful homage to Pelé that took place at Vila Belmiro, in Santos,” the FIFA boss wrote on his social media pages.
“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,” Infantino added.
“I would like to clarify that I was both honoured and humbled that teammates 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, Pelé’s teammates 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 phone of one of them and took the photo of all of us for him,” the statement continued to read.
Within Infantino’s message were the selfie of him and Pele’s teammates.
The FIFA boss went on to write, “If being helpful to a teammate 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 Pelé and for that ceremony yesterday that I would never do anything that would be disrespectful in any way whatsoever.”
“I hope that those who published or said things without knowing and without seeking information could have the decency and courage to admit they were wrong and correct what they said.”
Within the criticism, users anointed Infantino as disgraceful and tactless. Some even compared him to celebrity Salt Bae, who came under fire for storming the pitch as Argentina players celebrated their victory.
“Today the FIFA president is showing disrespect. Today the FIFA president is shameful. Today the FIFA president should be embarrassed…everyday the FIFA president is an idiot,” another user said, mocking the chief’s speech during a press conference on the eve of the World Cup in Qatar.