The image of a young Pelé celebrating goals and lifting trophies with Brazil’s national team appeared brightly on the shirts, flags and banners of Brazilian fans gathering before the Seleçao’s World Cup match against South Korea on Monday.
The 82-year-old Pelé remained in a hospital in Sao Paulo, recovering from a respiratory infection that was aggravated by COVID-19. The news coming from Brazil early Monday was good, as two daughters and one grandson of the soccer great said he was not under an imminent risk of death.
It was reason for celebration for the many Brazilians who have been cheering for the Selecao and showing their support to Pelé in Qatar.
“We are all happy to hear that he is getting better,” 35-year-old Brazil fan Raphael Bissonho said. “He’s the King of Football, our biggest symbol in soccer. He represents Brazil as best as anyone. Let’s hope that soon he is out of the hospital and showing us a photo of him watching the national team on the television.”
Pelé had a colon tumor removed last year, but neither his family nor the hospital have said whether it had spread.
A few thousand people were at the Brazilian fans’ gathering point in Doha on Monday to cheer for the team in the match against South Korea in the round of 16. Many would be heading to Stadium 974 to watch the game.