'Good gesture'
Grange not averse to naming football venue in tribute to legendary Pelé
Brazil's Pele is hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates after Brazil won the World Cup final against Italy, 4-1, in Mexico City's Estadio Azteca on June 21, 1970.Photo: AP

Sport Minister Olivia Grange is not opposed to naming a local football venue after late Brazilian legend Pelé.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said recently that his wish is to see every nation rename a venue in Pelé's honour after his death last month.

Infantino's statement was met with mixed reactions globally, but many Jamaicans are in support of the idea as it is a widely held view that he was the greatest footballer that ever lived.

Grange described such a project as "a good gesture".

GRANGE...we will explore what the possibilities are in ensuring that there's tangible tribute to Pelé.

"Jamaica, we will look at what we can do in relation to honouring the memory of Pelé," Grange told the Jamaica Observer recently.

"We have a programme of development for infrastructure facilities – the National Stadium, the Trelawny stadium, Catherine Hall and so on. So, we will explore what the possibilities are in ensuring that there's tangible tribute to Pelé."

But given Pelé's legacy in football, the question was raised whether local stadia are at the standard fitting to be renamed in tribute. Grange acknowledges that concern.

"We would definitely have to upgrade our facilities, which is our programme going forward," she said.

CAMPBELL...if I had the money, I would be the first one to say I'm building the stadium for it (Photo: Observer file)

Clive "Busy" Campbell is one member of Jamaica's football fraternity who is eager to see tribute paid to Pelé.

Campbell is a former footballer who played for Santos, a Jamaican club so named because of the love and respect its founders had for Pelé and Brazilian football as a whole.

"My view is I would have no problem with this," Campbell said. "If I had the money, I would be the first one to say I'm building the stadium for it. A lot of work would have to be done and we would have to come together. That's the problem we have sometimes – we don't unite, but it can be done."

Numerous statues have been erected in honour of Jamaica's Olympians at the National Stadium in recent years, as well as streets and schools named in honour of other cultural icons, during Grange's tenure as sport minister. However, the public has long called for more to be done for national icons Bob Marley and Louise Bennett-Coverley. Would honouring Pelé before them upset the public? Campbell says no because Jamaicans hold Pelé in similar regard to Marley and Bennett-Coverley. But he wants it done in a practical way.

"You can't rename the National Stadium, but there are other places," he said. "I remember, in May Pen, they had started something for Herb McKenley [late Olympian]. I don't know what the condition of it is now, but Jamaica has so many spaces where football stadiums can be built. It would be good if it's in the middle of the country where everybody can come and get access to it."

Pelé, who died at 82 years old, is the only man in history to win three FIFA World Cup titles.

BY RACHID PARCHMENT Digital sports coordinator parchmentr@jamaicaobserver.com

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