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Rivaldo explains why he didn't attend Pele's funeral amid criticism of Brazil's 2002 World Cup-winning squad and Neymar

11:05 GMT+3 05/01/2023
Pele Brazil.
Rivaldo has explained why he did not attend the funeral of Brazil legend Pele following the three-time World Cup winner’s passing at the age of 82.
  • All-time great passed away at age of 82
  • Thousands have paid their respects
  • Brazilian icons did not attend ceremony

WHAT HAPPENED? While more than 230,000 people are said to have attended a ceremony in Santos to mark the death of an all-time great, several prominent figures – including current Selecao star Neymar and former heroes Zico, Romario, Ronaldo, Kaka and Ronaldinho – have come in for criticism over their notable absences. Mauro Silva was the only member of Brazil’s 1994 World Cup-winning squad to attend Pele’s wake, while household names from a 2002 triumph failed to show up and pay their respects as a fellow countryman’s coffin was placed in Santos’ home stadium for 24 hours.

WHAT THEY SAID: Explaining his absence, former Barcelona star Rivaldo has said: “Even if I were in Brazil, I'm not sure if I would go to the wake even though I know that Pele was the best of all time. I don't like paying homage at this time, I'm not against anyone who wants to do it. I met Pele, I had several conversations with him and I had the opportunity to honour him in life. I showed my affection and admiration for him at every moment and he always thanked me for it. No one will change the respect and admiration I had and continue to have for him despite not going to the wake. The best tribute is in life and this I did and I have a very clear conscience.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Cafu, who captained Brazil to global glory in 2002, said of his reasons for not returning to South America: Life is made of true moments and those I had with the King, in life. Unfortunately, and with all my regret, I couldn't be at Pele's wake, I'm on the other side of the world, for work. Unfortunately I could not make it. Does that change how I feel about Pele, or what he means to me and football? Never! What stays in my heart is the Edson I met when he called me to play when I was starting my journey in the national team, the one who was at my foundation and made Jardim Irene eternal, and the Pele who inspired me and has always been my great reference. This day does not invalidate our history and does not make you less important to me.”

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WHAT NEXT? Some of Pele’s surviving team-mates from his World Cup wins in 1958, 1962 and 1970 were unable to attend due to ill health, but thousands of Brazilians have now paid their respects to a man that will be forever remembered as one of the very best to have ever played the game.