He is being treated at the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo, which said in a statement Wednesday that his cancer had advanced, forcing them to put the sportsman under “elevated care” related to “kidney and cardiac dysfunctions,” the Associated Press reported.
Pelé, 82, has been undergoing chemotherapy since he had a colon tumor removed in September 2021.
Known globally as Pelé, he was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento and swiftly became a household name for soccer fans playing as a teenager in Latin America and in his first World Cup in 1958 in Sweden.
His daughter, Kely Nascimento, said in an Instagram post on Wednesday that her father would spend the holidays in hospital.
“Our Christmas at home has been suspended. We decided with the doctors that, for various reasons, it would be better for us to stay here with all the care that this new family at Einstein gives us,” she said.
“We, as always, thank you for all the love you show us here in Brazil as well as around the world! Your love for him and your stories and prayers are a HUGE comfort because we know we are not alone.”
As the 2022 World Cup tournament concluded in Qatar last week, Pelé sent his congratulations to the winning team, Argentina, and its star player Lionel Messi.
“Congratulations Argentina! Certainly Diego is smiling now,” he wrote, in reference to another Argentine soccer great, the late Diego Maradona.
“Today, football continues to tell its story, as always, in an enthralling way,” Pelé wrote on Instagram. “Messi winning his first World Cup, as his trajectory deserved. My dear friend, [Kylian] Mbappé, scoring four goals in a final. What a gift it was to watch this spectacle to the future of our sport.”
Pelé also congratulated the Morocco soccer team for making history reaching the semifinals and finishing in fourth place. “It’s great to see Africa shine,” he wrote.
He previously said he had been watching the games from the hospital and congratulated Brazilian star Neymar for matching his national team scoring record (77 goals), just as the team exited the World Cup, losing to Croatia.
Pelé’s onset of poor health has worried global sports fans, with many sending messages of support or holding up banner tributes at matches and affectionately terming him the “King.”
“My friends, I want to keep everyone calm and positive,” Pelé said in an earlier post in December. “I’m strong, with a lot of hope and I follow my treatment as usual.”
“I have a lot of faith in God and every message of love I receive from you all over the world keeps me full of energy. … Thank you so much for everything,” he added.