Brazilian soccer legend Pelé has sought to reassure fans following reports that the 82-year-old’s health was rapidly declining.
The soccer star, who has been battling colon cancer since last year, was admitted to a hospital in Sao Paulo on Tuesday for a reassessment of his chemotherapy treatment, according to the hospital. A local newspaper reported Saturday that his chemotherapy had been suspended and he was receiving end-of-life care, setting off alarm bells across the soccer world.
But in an Instagram post Saturday, amid the World Cup fervor, Pelé appeared to refute the latter claim, saying he wanted to “keep everyone calm.”
“I’m strong, very hopeful, and following my treatment as usual,” he wrote. “I have a lot of faith in God and every message of love I receive from you, coming all over the world, keeps me full of energy.”
The hospital also published a statement Saturday, saying the soccer player was “still undergoing treatment and his health condition remains stable.”
“He is responding well to care for a respiratory infection, and his condition has not changed in the last 24 hours," the statement said.
The statements followed an outpouring of support on social media from fellow soccer stars. Kylian Mbappé, a forward for Paris Saint-Germain, tagged Pelé in a tweet encouraging his followers to “Pray for the King.” Pelé’s former club, Santos FC, tweeted that the “whole world” was “together with you, King Pelé!” At a World Cup match in Qatar on Friday, fans held up a sign with a photo of the soccer star and the words, “Pelé. Get well soon.”
The soccer great had a tumor removed from his right colon in September 2021 and was hospitalized for chemotherapy in December of that year. He has been in and out of the hospital since then for treatment.