Rwanda: Kagame Honours Pele As Rwanda Stadium Is Named After Late Icon

The newly revamped stadium is renamed Kigali Pele Stadium.

President Paul Kagame paid tribute to former Brazilian legend, Edson Arantes do Nascimento a.k.a Pele for inspiring the football world and getting the world united during his legendary footballing career.

Kagame made the remarks on Wednesday March 15, after he, alongside FIFA President Gianni Infantino, officially inaugurated Kigali Stadium which was named after the football legend and hence became 'Kigali Pele Stadium', in a Football Delegation Tournament organized on the sidelines of the 73rd FIFA Congress.

The legendary Brazilian football player, who rose from barefoot poverty to become one of the greatest and best-known athletes in modern history, died at Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein hospital on December 29, aged 82 after a battle with cancer.

In January, Infantino, who described Pele as "exemplary sportsman", pledged to ask every country in the world to name a stadium in honour of Brazil and world's football great Pelé. Rwanda, which is hosting the 73rd FIFA Congress, is among the countries that honored his request.

Kagame thanked Infantino for giving the country an opportunity to join the rest of the world that has honored Pele by naming the stadium in his name.

"Thank you for the initiative to enable us to honor Pele as we remember his passing," Kagame said.

"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," he added.

Kagame expressed his gratitude for being part of Pele's remembrance and being part of the football game that thrives to get the world more united, emphasizing that naming the facility after Pele will undoubtedly inspire young players to follow his example.

"This stadium is a place for young women and men who come together to play football and who are going to be inspired by this story of the legend Pele was," he noted.

Meanwhile, Infantino believes that naming the Kigali Stadium after Pele is the best way to not only keep memory of the football great but to also inspire the world of football in Rwanda to walk in his footsteps.

"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," he said.

After the Stadium renaming ceremony, Kagame and Infantino participated in the Football Delegation Tournament that brought together top executives from FIFA and affiliated Confederation and member associations as well as football legends.

The tournament participants are among close to 2,000 delegates expected to attend the much-anticipated 73rd FIFA Congress slated Thursday, March 16, at BK Arena.

It is during the congress when the FIFA elections will take place. Incumbent Infantino is the lone candidate for the top position after running unopposed.

He is likely to be reelected for another four-year term that could see him stay in office until 2027 should he win the vote of confidence from the body's member associations.

A candidate is eligible for three terms and, if elected, Infantino will be serving his last term in office.

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