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Cape Verde becomes first African country to name stadium after Pelé

Pelé (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) and the former Estadio da Varzea in Cape Verde, now Pelé Stadium

Cape Verde has become the first African country to name a stadium after Pelé following a request by the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino.

The prime minister of the island nation, Ulisses Correira e Silva, said Cape Verdeans would honour the legendary footballer by renaming Estadio da Varzea, their national stadium, Pelé Stadium.

He noted that Brazil and Cape Verde have a history and culture that “go hand in hand and by language and very similar identities”.

Cape Verde, like Brazil, is a Portuguese-speaking (lusophone) country.

The decision comes just days after Infantino called on every country to honour the three-time World Cup winner, who died aged 82 on 29 December 2022, by naming a stadium after him.

“Pelé was and will always be a reference in Brazil, in our Portuguese-speaking world and in the rest of the world, being an idol that connects several generations,” said Prime Minister Correia e Silva in a statement released on his official Facebook page.

“As a tribute and recognition to this figure who makes us all great, I manifest the intention [of the government] to name our national stadium as ‘Pelé Stadium’ in an initiative to which, I believe, several countries around the world will accompany us.”

Record-setting form

Infantino’s request has divided opinion across the world, some agreeing with him while others are set against his wish.

Pelé is the only man in football history to play for a winning national side in the World Cup three times, featuring in the Brazil squads that won the title in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

The former Santos and New York Cosmos star also scored over a thousand goals in a phenomenal career that saw him secure numerous titles and become a household name.

It will be interesting to see which other countries follow Cape Verde’s lead in naming a stadium after Pelé.

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