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A large flag of Brazil legend Pele is unveiled in the crowd ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G match between Cameroon and Brazil at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha. Image Credit: AFP

Lusail: Brazilian fans showed their support for soccer great Pele during the national team’s 1-0 loss to Cameroon at the World Cup on Friday.

The 82-year-old Pele, who had a colon tumor removed last year, was hospitalized Tuesday in Sao Paulo to regulate his medication. Doctors said Friday he had a respiratory infection and would remain in the hospital being treated with antibiotics, according to the Hospital Albert Einstein.

“It’s sad to hear this news about Pele on the day of a Brazil match at the World Cup,” said 41-year-old Brazil fan Rafael Bistelli, who traveled from Sao Paulo to watch the national team in Qatar. “We are trying to send him our positive energy from here.”

Doctors said Friday that Pele’s response to treatment had been “adequate and the patient, who remains in a regular bedroom, is stable, with an overall improvement in his health condition.”

Fans in Qatar displayed a banner with the image of Pele holding a soccer ball behind one of the goals at Lusail Stadium. They also opened a large flag with an image of the Brazil great and the words: “Pele. Get well soon.” One fan in the stands held up a jersey with a photo of Pele on it.

Another large image of Pele could be seen on a building near the venue, along with the messages “get well soon” and “we love Pele.”

Monthly visit

“Friends, I am at the hospital making my monthly visit,” Pele wrote on Instagram on Thursday. “It’s always nice to receive positive messages like this. Thanks to Qatar for this tribute, and to everyone who sends me good vibes!”

Brazilian fans who gathered before the match against Cameroon also had Pele in mind, singing songs about him and sending him well-wishes.

In the pre-match news conference on Thursday, Brazil coach Tite said the entire team wanted “to wish good health to Pele” from Qatar.

On Wednesday, doctors said Pele was in stable condition after arriving “for a reevaluation of the chemotherapeutic treatment of the tumor.” They said Pele was not in intensive care.

Brazil still finished first in Group G despite the loss to Cameroon. The team will face South Korea in the round of 16.