Pele Stadium: Rwanda names stadium after ‘son of Africa’

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Rwanda on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, named a 22,000-seater multipurpose stadium in the capital, Kigali after global football icon and departed Brazilian legend, Pele. Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele died on 29 December 2022 at the age of 82 years. The new name is Kigali Pele Stadium

While hosting a gathering of over 2,000 delegates for the 73rd FIFA congress, in Kigali, Rwanda, the country took the opportunity to name the stadium after the celebrated footballer legend.

“Today, Rwanda hosts the 73rd #FIFACongress, bringing together over 2,000 delegates including all 211 FIFA members, heads of confederations and all FIFA invitees. The congress which is the supreme legislative body will also elect the new FIFA president,” a government Twitter account announced the FIFA congress in the country.

Formerly known as the Kigali Regional Stadium, the multipurpose stadium will now be called the Kigali Pele Stadium and was inaugurated by President Paul Kagame.

Paul Kagame thanked the FIFA boss for the honour of allowing the country to name a facility after Pele. “Thank you for the initiative to enable us to honor Pele as we remember his passing,” he said.

Pele Stadium in Kigali Rwanda

“Pele, as we know, a son of Africa who brought the whole world together through sports and a man from humble beginnings who rose to the level of excellence but also is an inspiration to many in the world with such a history, with such a background and that gives them hope that, in the same way, they can do things that bring them to the same level,” Paul Kagame said as quoted by AllAfrica.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said of the gesture of the Rwandan government to honour Pele’s memory. “Pelé is football. Pelé left us far too early but he is always with us. To all of us who love football, he is so important.”

He added, “This is a beautiful stadium. Now named after Pele, one of the greatest of the world, as President Kagame said, son of Africa who brought football all over the world and the citizens of the world. It’s a great emotion. Pele left us but he is always with us,”

Rwanda’s gesture follows that of Cape Verde which became the first country to name a stadium after the former Brazil star. The country’s Prime Minister in announcing the news said, “The 15,000-seat stadium, which hosts football matches for the Cape Verde national team, will be called ‘Pele Stadium’ in honour of the former New York Cosmos player. As a tribute and recognition to this figure that makes us all great, I manifest the intention of naming our national stadium as ‘Pele Stadium,’ in an initiative that, I believe, will be followed by several countries around the world”.

The renaming of stadiums after Pele follows an appeal by FIFA President to all member federations to honour his memory by naming one stadium after him. Rwanda is the second of the 211 member federations to do so.

A match was organized following the renaming of the facility and saw dignitaries such as FIFA President and Rwanda President Paul Kagame all taking part in the match.

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