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Pele ‘would have been sad’ at state of Brazil team, says son

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A statue depicting Brazilian football legend Pele at Rei Pele pier, in Sao Vicente on Dec 19. PHOTO: AFP

Pele “would have been sad” at the state of the current Brazil national team, his son Edinho told AFP in an interview days before the first anniversary of his death on Dec 29.

Brazil have struggled in their campaign to reach the 2026 World Cup, with three losses in six matches, including a first-ever qualifying loss on home soil to arch-rivals Argentina in November. They are sixth in the South American table, the last spot that affords direct qualification.

The Selecao have struggled without their biggest star Neymar, who will be back only after the 2024 Copa America due to a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee.

“This crisis didn’t appear overnight, there are big and complex problems,” said Edinho, 53, who is one of Pele’s seven children.

“We are experiencing a decline… we still have great players but in previous times we had more high-level players than we do today.”

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“There is no doubt, if (Pele) had been there this year, he would have been very sad,” added Edinho, who was raised by his mother as Pele and her separated shortly after Pele’s move to the United States to play for New York Cosmos in 1975, but grew closer to him in later life.

Santos, the Brazilian club where Pele spent most of his career, are also going through a tough period after they were relegated to the second division for the first time in their 111-year history.

The club are wrecked by financial problems and boardroom rifts.

“Unfortunately, this is no surprise. Anyone who has followed the daily life of the club could have anticipated such a scenario, and it has ended up happening,” said Edinho, who was Santos’ goalkeeper for several seasons.

The ceremonies to mark the first anniversary of Pele’s death from cancer at the age of 82 are expected to be low-key.

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The six surviving children of the man widely considered the greatest footballer in history will hold a virtual meeting to mark the moment as several live in the US, while a ceremony is scheduled to be held at the mausoleum in Santos, the final resting place for “The King” which was opened to the public in May.

Edinho, whose life has been far from smooth, having served time for money laundering and drug trafficking, said the loss of the charismatic man who scored 77 goals in 92 appearances for Brazil had left a huge hole in the family’s life.

“He was exceptional, we miss him a lot,” Edinho said. “He carried our country’s name through football, which we are very proud of.”

AFP

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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CELEBRITY

Lionel Messi set to hang boots

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Messi Sets Record Straight Over Hong Kong Absence -

Inter Miami will be the last club Argentina captain Lionel Messi plays for, the 36-year-old forward said on Wednesday, adding he feels “a little bit scared” at the thought of the day he decides to retire.

Messi, a World Cup winner with Argentina in 2022, has a contract with the Major League Soccer side until 2025 following his arrival last summer after a spell with French champions Paris St Germain.

“Inter Miami will be my last club. I love playing football. I enjoy everything even more because I am aware that there is less and less left,” Messi told ESPN.

“I’m not ready to leave football. I’ve done this all my life, I love playing football, I enjoy training, the day-to-day, the matches… And yes, there’s always a little bit of fear that it’s all over.”

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi is preparing with his national team to defend their Copa America title, with the tournament kicking off on June 20 in the United States.

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Argentina will take on Canada in the opening match before facing Group A rivals Chile on June 25 and Peru four days later.

-Reuters

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Bidding opens for Messi napkin that defined soccer great’s career

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A guest looks at a napkin, written on by Barcelona's Sporting Director at that time Carles Rexach on December 14, 2000, promising a contract to secure 13-year-old Lionel Messi for FC Barcelona, on display at Bonhams Auctions in New York City, U.S., March 6, 2024. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Bidding began on Wednesday for a napkin on which soccer club Barcelona penned a promise to sign a 13-year-old Lionel Messi – who went on to become one of the game’s greatest players – with early bids reaching almost $300,000.

The napkin was signed in December 2000 when Carles Rexach, then Barcelona’s sporting director, agreed with agent Horacio Gaggioli to recruit the Argentine teenager who went on to become the club’s all-time top scorer.

Bidding for the document, described by auction house Bonhams as “blue ink on a standard Spanish waxy napkin,” was at 220,000 pounds ($274,824.00) shortly after the sale opened, according to the auctioneer’s website.

The online sale closes on May 17 and has a guide price of between 300,000 and 500,000 pounds.

“It was never legally binding, but emotionally it represents the deep link or the beginning of the deep link, that Messi had with Barcelona,” said Bonhams Chief Marketing Officer Marc Sands.

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Messi helped Barcelona win 35 titles, making a record 782 appearances and scoring 674 goals. Messi left Barcelona in 2021 and now plays for Inter Miami.

“If you love football, you’ll know all about Lionel Messi and you will know that he defined football for generations. If you want a slice of that action, this is the thing to get,” Sands said.

-Reuters

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Maradona’s children wants body exhumed

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A fan of Argentine soccer superstar Diego Armado Maradona celebrates the idol's 35th anniversary of the "goal of the century", against England during the 1986 World Cup played in Mexico, in Buenos Aires, Argentina June 22, 2021. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Diego Maradona’s children filed a request with the Argentine Courts on Thursday to move the former football great’s body “to a much safer place” and for fans “to pay tribute” in a mausoleum.

Maradona’s remains lie in a private cemetery on the outskirts of Buenos Aires where he was carried in November 2020 in a massive funeral procession. Only family members are allowed to enter the cemetery.

The mausoleum, called “Memorial del Diez,” is located behind the Casa Rosada, the seat of the executive branch of the Argentine government, and will be open to the public, Veronica Ojeda, mother of Maradona’s youngest son, told local media.

“All the heirs request by common agreement to authorise the transfer to his next destination of eternal rest (…) in a much safer place than the current one,” said the note presented to the court signed by Dalma and Gianinna Maradona, and Ojeda on behalf of Diego Maradona Jr.

“And so that all the Argentine people and the citizens of the world can pay homage to our father who was the greatest Argentine idol.”

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The relocation will take place around Oct. 30, the birth date of the 1986 World Cup winner with Argentina, one of the family’s lawyers told reporters.

Maradona died at age 60 in November 2020 from a heart attack. Fans of Napoli and of the Argentine national team worshipped him as the “god of football.”

-Reuters

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