FIFA chief Gianni Infantino insisted Wednesday he would never be disrespectful to Pele as he came under fire over a photo call at the Brazilian legend’s wake.
Infantino took a selfie with some of Pele’s old teammates on Monday right beside the open coffin of the three-time World Cup winner.
The Swiss said he took the photo as Pele’s friends seemed unable to operate their mobile phones.
“I took the phone of one of them and took the photo of all of us for him,” Infantino insisted.
“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 Pele and for that ceremony yesterday that I would never do anything that would be disrespectful in any way whatsoever,” Infantino said.
Brazil gave Pele a powerful send off starting with a day-long wake at the Santos stadium.
Santos said more than 230,000 people had attended his 24-hour wake in the Vila Belmiro stadium.
At the funeral a more sombre tone was set as Pele’s tearful widow Marcia Cibele Aoki was embraced by the equally moved newly-sworn in president Lula.
Pele died Thursday at age 82 after a battle with cancer.