FIFA President Gianni Infantino came in for heavy criticism after taking a selfie next to the open casket of football legend Pele.
GB News presenter Martin Daubney dubbed the FIFA boss a “clown” as he was seen posing for a photo with some of Brazil’s footballing greats, including Lima.
The action from the most powerful man in football has been met with widespread anger among fans following the death of the footballing icon.
Speaking on GB News Breakfast, Daubney said: “The FIFA president Infantino, who was ridiculous in Qatar by saying ‘today I’m black, today I’m homosexual’ before the tournament.
“Who takes a crass, classless photo at a funeral? He did. He’s making out that Pele’s family asked him to do it.
“I don’t buy it. I think the bloke is an absolute clown.”
Infantino took to social media to defend himself against criticism for the act.
In an Instagram post, Infantino said family members and former team-mates of Pele had asked him for a photograph and he was happy to oblige.
Gianni Infantino has been met with widespread criticism following his selfie near Pele's coffin. DIEGO VARA
He added: “I have so much respect and admiration for Pele and for that ceremony yesterday that I would never do anything that would be disrespectful in any way whatsoever.
“I hope that those who published or said things without knowing and without seeking information could have the decency and courage to admit they were wrong and correct what they said.”
Infantino, who has urged each of FIFA’s 211 member associations to name a venue after the former Brazil striker, revealed that the pitch at the governing body’s headquarters in Switzerland would now be known as ‘Estadio Pele – FIFA Zurich’.
It comes as football’s first world superstar Pele was laid to rest on Tuesday after thousands turned out to pay their final respects.
Brazil’s three-times World Cup winner, who died on December 29 at the age of 82, was interred on the ninth floor of the vertical Memorial Necropole Ecumenica – reportedly at his own request so he could look over the nearby Urbano Caldeira stadium, the home of former club Santos – amid an outpouring of affection.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, who was known throughout his career as Pele, had lain in state for 24 hours in an open coffin draped with both Brazil and Santos flags on the pitch at the stadium in the city’s Vila Belmiro neighbourhood to allow fans and dignitaries to file past.
The country’s newly-installed president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was among them on a day when a country deeply divided by politics united to celebrate the life of perhaps its most famous son.
Lula said on his official Twitter account: “Pele’s death is an irreparable loss for Brazil.
“I was in Vila Belmiro today to say goodbye to our football king, as President of the Republic, but also as a citizen who admired the art he produced on the pitch. Rest in peace.”