Fans have harshly criticized the past and present Brazilian football stars because they didn’t show up at the funeral of the legendary Pele but said goodbye to him through social media.
Three-time world champion Pele was laid to rest on Tuesday after more than 230,000 of his fans turned out for his funeral at the Santos stadium. Pele died last Thursday after a long battle with cancer.
Fans expected former Santos players such as Neymar, Rodrigo, and Giovanni to attend the funeral, but also former aces Zico, Romario, Ronaldo, Kaka, and Ronaldinho Gaucho to pay their last respects.
After the funeral, angry fans flooded social media with messages.
None of the Brazilian national team members who won the World Cup in 2002 came. One of them, Kaka, was criticized after he complained in an interview in December that Brazilians do not respect their sports heroes as much as they respect foreigners.
“You didn’t even show up at the funeral of the man who paved the way for you to have the life you have“, fan Joao Vitor Custodio said on Kaka’s Instagram post about Pele, which attracted more than 5,000 comments, including about the decision not to attend the funeral.
In Neymar’s post, in which he regrets Pele’s death, one fan wrote: “It’s easy to say, but you sent your father and you didn’t come“.
After that, Neymar limited his comments to only people he knows.
No foreign footballers came to Brazil to pay their respects, nor to the funeral.
Former national team member Mauro Silva was the only representative of the national team that won the 1994 World Championship in the USA. He is currently an official in the Football Association of Sao Paulo.
Some of Pelé’s 1958, 1962, and 1970 World Cup-winning teammates were unable to attend, such as 91-year-old Mario Zagallo, as well as others such as Roberto Rivelino, who was too upset.
Fans don’t seem to believe those who said they tried but didn’t make it to Santos in time, like Cafu.
“Unfortunately and with great sadness, I could not attend Pele’s funeral, I was on the other side of the world at work. The flights to Brazil were on Wednesday morning and I could arrive in Brazil the next day. Does that change how I feel about Pele or what he represents to me and football? Never“, stated Kafu.
Rivaldo, who lives in the US, said he was not sure if he would have attended the funeral even if he had been in Brazil.
“I don’t like to pay respect then and I’m not against those who do that. I met Pele, I was with him many times and I had the opportunity to pay tribute to him during my life“, he stated.
Of the more prominent Brazilian players who have a connection with Santos, Ze Roberto from Bayern Munich, Elano from Manchester City and Paulo Roberto Falcao from Roma did not appear.
Apart from Santos, only a few active footballers and managers of Brazilian clubs attended the funeral.