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Passing of Pelé mourned as his legacy of sport for peace lives on

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Pelé was unique in so many ways: the only player to have won the FIFA World Cup three times; an athlete with incomparable skills and imagination; and the ability to rise above racism and poverty.

Football legend Pelé arriving for the 2012 Olympic hunger summit in London.
Football legend Pelé arriving for the 2012 Olympic hunger summit at 10 Downing Street on the closing day of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (AN/U.K. FCDO)

Among the many lasting impacts of Brazilian football superstar Pelé's celebrated 82 years of life is his role as an international champion of sport to promote peace.

Pelé, who lifted his nation to a record three World Cups and became a legend of the "beautiful game," died on Thursday in Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital at São Paulo, Brazil, where he was undergoing treatment for colon cancer since 2021.

Along with his astonishing prowess at evading opponents and scoring prolifically for Brazilian club Santos and the Brazil national team, he became a global ambassador for the sport in the promotion of international efforts to build peace.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Pelé. We extend our condolences to the Brazilian people and the football family," UNESCO said. "Pelé was UNESCO Champion for Sport since 1994 and worked relentlessly to promote sport as a tool for peace. He will be greatly missed. Até sempre, o Rei."

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