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FIFA president presides over renaming of Paris stadium in honour of Pelé

Newly-named Stade Pelé in Paris   -  
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FIFA President Gianni Infantino made a surprise stopover in Paris on Saturday to rename a stadium in a working class neighbourhood of the city.

Boutroux Stadium is now called Stade Pele, after the Brazilian football legend who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

It is a project that is dear to Infantino.

“Football unites and Pelé united the world before everyone else. He was the first international star and first international football icon,” he said.

“That’s why, when he passed away a year and a half ago, I made a plea that everywhere in the world, children need to remember and know who Pelé was.”

Infantino said that is why he asked that everywhere in the world, a stadium or a site be named after him.

The Paris stadium is the latest to change its name in honour of the Brazilian forward, following the likes of venues in Colombia, the Maldives, and Rwanda.

“Pelé was the first to try amazing things with the ball at his feet. And not only did he try them, he was also the first to pull them off. Many others copied him later, and some have succeeded, others less so,” said Infantino.

The ceremony also celebrated the promotion of the stadium’s home club, Paris 13 Atletico, to the French third division for next season.

But even with its new entrance and frescoes, the stadium is still not approved to host the team’s national league matches next season.

A budget has been approved and officials said Saturday’s inauguration was an important step, as bearing the name of Pelé obliges them to maintain a certain level of excellence.

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