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Iconic football player Pele is not dead

“Pele Brazilian football legend dies at 78 in Paris hospital,” declares an April 2019 article on the Weekly Observer.

The three-sentence story claims the famous footballer Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele, died at a Paris hospital at the age of 78 after succumbing to an infection.

It’s been shared on Facebook nearly 5,000 times, including in Nigeria.

Pele in hospital for ‘light fever’

The article was published on 3 April 2019. On that day, Pele did spend some time in a Paris hospital with a “light fever”, before his long flight back to Brazil, but was “doing well”.

Pele was in France to meet football star Kylian Mbappé at an event organised by watch manufacturer Hublot on 2 March.

He even tweeted about the meeting on the day he supposedly died.

“I met Kylian Mbappe and his parents last night in Paris at Hublot event,” the tweet reads. “We talked goals, World Cups, and watches. Great Company!”

Surgery for kidney stone

Pele was discharged from hospital on 8 April.

On 5 April, he tweeted: “Thank you for all your love! The antibiotics are working and the tests are all good. I feel so much better, I think I’m ready to play again.”

Back home in Brazil, Pele had successful surgery to remove a kidney stone, at the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo. He was discharged on 15 April.

On 16 April 2019, he tweeted again to give his fans a health update. “My dear friends. I’m happy to be able to write again to let you know that I’m fine. I would like to thank the medical staff of Albert Einstein Hospital, and especially you, for the prayers and positive energy. I’m back on the field, thirsting for new goals in life.”

Pele’s most recent activity on Facebook and Twitter was on 1 June 2019. On 1 July, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the football legend cancelled an event because of ill-health. 

2014 death tweeted by CNN show

This isn’t the first time the footballer’s death has been wrongly reported. In March 2014, CNN morning show New Day tweeted that Pele was dead.

Moments later, his representative rubbished the report, saying Pele was “alive and very well”.

CNN pulled down the tweet and apologised. “We deleted an earlier and erroneous tweet on this topic. We regret the error and thank our followers for the feedback.” – Grace Gichuhi


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