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Colombian stadium first in Latin America renamed after Pele

Colombia is the first Latin American country to meet FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s request to name a stadium after Pele.

Infantino on Monday said world football’s governing body would ask all countries to name a stadium after the Brazilian icon, widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all time, who died last week after a long battle with illness.

And late on Wednesday, the governor of Colombia’s southern Meta department, Juan Guillermo Zuluaga announced on Twitter that a stadium in the city of Villavicencio “will be called BELLO HORIZONTE ‘REY PELE’.”

“Future generations must know who this world football icon was,” said Zuluaga.

The 15,000 capacity stadium inaugurated in 1958 was previously called simply Bello Horizonte, which means “beautiful skyline” in Spanish.

It is the home of modest second division Colombian side Llaneros.

Pele died on December 29 aged 82 following a long battle with colon cancer.

He was buried on Tuesday in Santos, the city where he played most of his football career and made his name.

While attending Pele’s wake, Infantino said he would ask all FIFA’s member federations to pay tribute to Pele by renaming a stadium after the three-time World Cup winner.

Colombia was beaten to the stadium move by Cape Verde, whose prime minister Jose Ulisses Correia e Silva had announced earlier on Wednesday the renaming of the national stadium in the capital Praia. 

The northeastern Brazilian city of Maceio has since 1979 had a stadium called “Rei Pele” (King Pele) although it is commonly known as the Trapichao.

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