Relatives of footballing legend Pele have said the 82-year-old is under no imminent risk of death.
Two daughters and one grandson of the Brazilian player said the three-time World Cup winner has been in hospital since Tuesday for treatment of a respiratory infection aggravated by COVID-19.
Kely and Flavia Nascimento and Arthur Arantes do Nascimento said in an interview on Sunday night that Pele, who is also undergoing chemotherapy in his fight against cancer, is expected to leave the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo once he fully recovers from the infection.
They added the 82-year-old is under no imminent risk of death.
“He is sick, he is old. But at the moment, he is there because of the lung infection. And once he feels better, he will go home again,” Kely Nascimento told TV Globo.
“He is not saying goodbye in a hospital at the moment,” she added.
The hospital said Pele is responding well to treatment for the infection and his health condition had not worsened over the previous 24 hours.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, who is globally known as Pele, had a colon tumour removed in September 2021, but neither his family nor the hospital have said whether it had spread.
Flavia Nascimento said: “It is very unfair for people to say he is in the end of his life, in palliative care. Guys, that’s not true. Believe us,” she said. “He is not in intensive care, he is in a regular bedroom. He is not in risk, he is in treatment.”
The Associated Press said newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo had reported on Saturday, Pele’s chemotherapy was not working, and that doctors had decided to put him on palliative care.
Pele thanks fans from hospital
‘One day it will happen – not today’
Arthur Arantes do Nascimento said the footballer was debating World Cup matches with him by phone, which he believes shows he is fully aware in hospital.
He said his grandfather was moved by tributes that have poured in from around the world over the past few days.
Since Saturday, about 100 fans of his lifelong club Santos gathered for a vigil, prayers and tributes to the footballing great.
“I see people telling me, ‘rest in peace’ (for Pele). One day it will happen, but it is not today,” he said. “He is going to be well, it is a matter of time. He will see Brazil lift the sixth title.”
Pele helped Brazil win the 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cups and remains the team’s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals in 92 matches.