Gianni Infantino selfie near Pele’s open coffin shows he is a truly ridiculous leader

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Many questions will be asked about Gianni Infantino’s decision to pose for selfies within feet of Pele’s open casket. These include: Is nothing sacred? Who actually wants a selfie with Infantino? And couldn’t he have waited for Becks?

No word yet on whether man of the people / Qatari ambassador Golden Balls is outside Vila Belmiro and dutifully queueing for his turn, so instead Infantino made do with a group of men including former Santos winger Manoel Maria.

In a video of the incident no one seems to object to the Fifa president and friends recording their dubious memento. Yet nor does such mugging for the camera seem to fit the mood. Those closer to the coffin, mere footsteps away, appear solemn. One woman is comforted as she weeps into another’s shoulder.

Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt was criticised for her grinning selfie at the funeral of Nelson Mandela in 2013, flanked by David Cameron and Barack Obama. Perhaps their line will be trotted out again, that the mood felt more celebratory than tragic? Indeed, it would be wrong to demand that mourning across the world matches this country’s expectations of quiet reflection.

What can not be argued is that snapping smiley photos so close to the body of a heroic figure is hugely misjudged. This is oddly vapid behaviour from Infantino, and not for the first time.

Away from Fifa’s unquestionably correct claim that Qatar’s stadiums were 96 per cent full during the group stage, it was not a vintage World Cup for Infantino. It began with his “I feel a migrant worker” speech, which was a bold claim. Hope he ran it past HR.

It ended with Salt Bae inexplicably playing a bigger part in Argentina’s celebrations than many members of Argentina’s squad. In his defence, Infantino has never been a man afraid to take action in the face of criticism. Two days before Christmas he booted up Instagram and bravely unfollowed Salt Bae.

Infantino speaks to Pele’s widow Marcia Aoki

Credit: AP/Andre Penner

Infantino is yet to outline the specifics of his newest vision, a worldwide network of stadiums named after Pele. We wish him the very best of luck getting that idea over the line in Argentina. It has the mark of a blue sky thinking exercise gone awry. Remember, there are no bad ideas! But maybe let’s workshop this one a bit more?

Should his organisation decide to proceed with the Peleverse, you can be sure the British version will conform with Fifa’s proud tradition of synergistic multi-platform partnerships: “Welcome to Halifax, and ‘PeleXTheShay’. No controversial hats, the only way to pay is Visa and if you try to bring in a non-approved Bovril you will be ordered to decant into a bottle of Coke Zero.”

Before announcing his stadium scheme Infantino delivered a necessarily bland tribute to Pele, saying “I had the great privilege of meeting Pelé on several occasions – an incredible human being with a big heart.” Unfortunately this sounded a lot like the comedian Limmy’s usual response to any celebrity death, mocking the inanity of performative mourning, in which he claims to have met the recently deceased “at a charity event. They were surprisingly down to earth and VERY funny.”

Infantino’s oft-repeated mission statement is to make football truly global. One on hand these appeals to worldwide unity are admirable. On the other, they are as trite as We Are The World, Michael Jackson’s incorrect answer to Band Aid.

“Football unites the world,” is the name for one of the inane campaigns Fifa promoted via armbands in Qatar. Infantino is making good progress himself here. The world is coming to a unanimous conclusion about him: he is just a ridiculous figure with an Instagram account.