Pele does not want to lead Fifa
The soccer legend says he does not want to lead the world’s football governing body, which is embroiled in controversy.
Soccer legend Pele said on Monday he did not want to be Fifa’s president, refusing to answer reporters’ questions about the crisis world football’s governing body was enmeshed in. On a day when he moved from one set-piece photo-op to another, watched by hero-worshipping crowds in a city which he had visited for the first time as a player all of 38 years, Pele had his wits about himself when he met the media. There was no answer that left anyone surprised.
“No, I don’t have any intention to be the president of Fifa,” he told mediapersons here. When a journalist asked whether the controversy and Fifa chief Sepp Blatter’s suspension saddened him, he said he would not take any questions on the apex body. (Word from Zurich is Fifa is discussing delaying its presidential election and a decision may be taken at an emergency executive meeting next week. Uefa’s 54 member-associations are gathering on Thursday at their headquarters in Nyon where the election will be on the agenda. It remains to be seen whether most on the executive committee would back postponing the vote.)
Reminded of Brazil’s poor recent World Cup performance, Pele said: “We haven’t lost our passion for football and we have great players. Unfortunately, we haven’t had time to prepare as a good team. Many of our footballers are playing in Europe and there are lots of great players among them. But we haven’t done well together.” Pele refused to name the best Brazilian ever. “Unfair to name one,” he said, adding: “When I started playing, everybody said Pele was great but there were others. Zico was an excellent player. I did not play alone. Always I had someone who would play with me.”
Asked whom he considered the world’s greatest footballer, Pele said: “I have had Bobby Moore (of England)… in the new generation Leo Messi is the best in the past 10 years.” He said he hoped Neymar would win trophies for Brazil. “He is from Santos. My son was a goalkeeper there. My son helped prepare Neymar. Today, he is one of the best players in the world.”
The 74-year-old agreed the sport had become highly competitive but said he would have been successful had he played now.
“No doubt football today is tougher than in the past but football is all about skills. I’m sure the greats would have been equally successful had they played in this era.” Asked about the coach he thought was the best, Pele named Mario Zagallo.
Giving his prescription for improving Indian football, Pele said the authorities must focus on the base level to ensure the game would spread to the universities, schools and colleges where youngsters could be groomed. He also lauded the Indian Super League as a tournament which could lift the game in the country.
“You have to start working at the base. You have to give chances to players to go abroad, where they can gather experience. They can then come here and share their experiences. But, first, you have to support the base,” Pele said.
On this day: Pele inspires Brazil to 1st World Cup
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