Brazilians mourn the death of Pele’s pioneering mother

June 24 – Celeste Arantes, the mother of the late Pelé, has died at the age of 101.

Arantes had been sick for some time and spent the last five years in a vegetative state.

In a statement, the Confederation of Brazilian Football (CBF) said that she had been hospitalized for the past eight days. Her cause of death was not revealed. She died on the day that Brazil celebrated the 54th birthday of the team’s 1970 World Cup win in which her son Pelé featured. In 2022, Arantes was not informed of her son’s death.

“Today is a sad day for football fans,” said CBF president Ednaldo Rodrigues. “Pelé always had a special affection for Dona Celeste, who captivated us. Dona Celeste was a black woman who fought together with her husband to overcome obstacles and create a family with great honour and dignity. I would like to send my condolences to family and friends at this time of grief.”

On social media, the Pelé Foundation wrote: “Today’s feelings are mixed. We deeply mourn the departure of ‘Celestinha,’ as her son affectionately called her. At the same time, we are eternally grateful for her existence,” the foundation said. “Dona Celeste is the queen mother and will forever be lovingly remembered in our hearts and memories.

Pelé, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was one of three children in the Arantes household and his mother had been against her son playing football, but her views changed as Pelé became better.

Pelé’s club Santos said: “It was 101 years of an inspiring life story. From a black woman who faced the infinite adversities of life for the sake of her family. Rest in peace, Queen.”

In 1958, Pelé won the World Cup in Sweden as a teenager, the first of three global finals he’d win. He is considered one of the best players of all time. Pelé died in December 2022 following a long illness.

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