Retired Brazilian footballer and probably the best football player of all times, Pele is under fire for his comment regarding the ongoing and gradually increasing anti-government protests in Brazil.
During a television interview Pele recommended the furious Brazilian people, who have been protesting for the past three weeks now, to “forget about the mess happening in Brazil and think about the national team.”
Now this statement was, according to recent news reports, a portion of the entire interview and only that part of it went viral. Of course that statement had to spark controversy as it totally went against what the Brazilians are standing up against; a non-extravagant world cup or any football event.
Brazilians carried out the first protests on June 6 against the increased costs of transportation in Sao Paulo and other cities but due to government indifference and use of force, the protests turned into violent demonstrations and anti-government movement. As stories unfolded it was revealed that the Brazilian people were not just against the bus fare hike but they also wanted a corruption-free government that focused more on the common man’s basic necessities instead of spending money on overgenerous football stadiums.
Maybe Pele failed to realize the extent of the protests and therefore said what he said in the interview. The retired footballer said that he supported the protests as long as they were “peaceful.” It’s a pity that he said this in order to clear up the confusion because even asking for peaceful protests is something Brazilians will not like since they have been tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed by the riot police while demanding their fundamental rights.
The internet is rife with people, especially Brazilians criticizing the football guru and mocking him for his comments.
Romario knows: "Pele is a poet, when his mouth's shut".— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) June 21, 2013
Dear Pele, i will forever be in awe of your sporting prowess, but today i'm reminded you're just another footballer http://t.co/3N3GklIbwT— Michael Dangalaba (@nomadiquemc) June 20, 2013
So Pelé supports peaceful protests but calls Brazil to 'forget' them and think about the national soccer team. Is he nuts?— Ani Lopez (@anilopez) June 20, 2013
Even Reddit has a lot to say:
Of course he doesn't give a f*** about the protests, multi million dollar contracts keep his pockets fat, he can afford any increase in fares or taxes. World cup means sponsorships, he doesn't give a fuck about the average Brazilian's struggle
Actually nobody in Brazil is surprised, he is notorious for making outlandish and dumb comments all of the time. Romario another one of Brazil's soccer legends gave a famous interview in which he said "Pele with his mouth shut is a poet." All in all currently in Brazil (when it comes to soccer players making stupid comments) are more pissed off at Ronaldo (the original) for saying "you can't host a World Cup in a hospital." a statement he has since retracted by saying the footage was doctored to make him look bad.
Ouch! Well, it seems Pele would have to say more than just “I-didn’t-mean-that” statement to convince Brazilians who are not the right audience to be told that sports can unite people.
The case here is, they are already united, against sports. It’s the other way round.