Portrait of Pele-5

- Sudipto Mullick   02-12-2016


Not perhaps actual God can do better than this…….In 1967, to watch Pele play an exhibition match in Laos, cease-fire was declared between the warring sides of Nigerian civil.

Within two short years solely due to his is presence average NASL attendance shot up by almost 80 percent from about 7,597 people in 1975, to 13,584 in 1977. Not only that but also it drew players to register for U.S. Soccer Federation which increased from slightly over 100,000 to nearly 400,000. Pele’s presence gave the necessary credibility to soccer as an accepted sport in US. He also signed contracts to teach soccer to young children in 115 countries and made soccer training films for a beverage co.

He was appointed a Un Ambassador for Ecology and the Environemnt as well as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO and UNICEF.

AS a Minister of Sports he passed “Pelé Law” to curb corruption in national football and to accord players more control over their careers. He was also a FIFA Ambassador against racism. Regardless of his views on racism in sports today, contemporary black athletes owe him a bit for progress made race relations in sports.

He was awarded Brazil's Gold Medal for outstanding services to the sport in 1995.

He’s met Bill Clinton on 15 October 1997, been knighted by the Queen of England and when in 1958, he met the King of Sweden and shook his hands, the photo became a first of a royal Swede shaking hands with a black man.

University of Edinburgh bestowed an honorary degree in 2012 to him for ‘significant contribution to humanitarian and environmental causes, as well as his sporting achievements’, his first such degree from a European university.

As  part of a series of international efforts to respond to hunger as a global issue, Pele, on 12 August 2012, Pelé the 2012 Olympic hunger summit in UK.

Wayward Soothsayer

If you want to win a title, you have to listen to Pele and then do the opposite,” Scolari had once said.

'When Pelé's quiet, he's a poet. But he just talks S..t”., maintains Romario.

And not without rhyme. If prediction was to be Pele’s scene, it would be a no-go. Every time Pele says something – favorable or otherwise about a team – the opposite happens. And not just isolated cases – a string of them.

Take the U.S 94 World Cup - Colombians marked as champions by Pele, were eliminated in first round. In 2014 they launched a campaign requesting Pele to consider them as favourites.

In France 98 La Furia Roja was his favorite - gets eliminated in the group stage; Same WC, China was to go QF – eliminated, not a game won, not a goal scored. Supposed finalists, France and Argentina – both handed first round elimination.

Any colt he highlights – disaster ensues - Ghanaian Nii Lamptey, proclaimed as successor after 1991 U-17 World Cup - football career – utter failure, personal life – utter tumult.

As has been said, the opposite happens - 2002 Brazilian squad was felt not up to mark, “won’t cross group stage” – they win it. Same in 2006 – Brazil dumped in favor of Argentina, France, Italy and Portugal, nod goes to Germany, England and Spain - Argentina, France and Portugal are group stage eliminates, Italy lose in the second round - Brazil win again.

But the worse of all:  "An African nation will win the World Cup before the year 2000" - an African country yet to surpass the quarters.

He did get one right – though he overlooked Netherlands, Spain was his candidate for 2010 WC.

An Astute Businessman

"I don't think I'm a very good businessman. I act too much with my heart.”, so may he say, yet he’s worth over $100 mil. But financial trust – with Spanish businessman, Pepe Gordo, did let him down - by 1966, all his investments including a sports and construction company failed and Pele faced bankruptcy. He then himself negotiated a new deal with Santos and signed a $120,000 deal with Puma to wear their boots. It led him to tie his boot-laces once too often during the 1970 World Cup. Pele was on the verge of being a brand and his stint in US sealed the deal.

He may have stayed with Santos refusing lucrative offers but he also negotiated with them to receive half of any fee the team charged for playing exhibition matches abroad. 

As per Rose Ganguzza, Pele’s then manager, the Cosmos deal was about $6 million over three years which was about about $23.2 million in 2012, half of Neymar’s transfer fee to Barca.

In early last year Forbes ranked Pelé as one of the world’s 10 highest-paid retired athletes, and, in 2013, he was named the most influential celebrity in his native Brazil.

Pele earns an estimated $30 million a year from endorsements, personal appearances and his businesses and could hit $100 million by 2016 but he refuses to endorse cigarettes or liquor. "I know that I have influence on youngsters and I don't feel that I want them to think if I should endorse these products I want them to use them." In the numbers be right then he should surpass Greg Norman, Wayne Gretzky, Gary Player, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O’Neal in annual endorsement income.

With interests in construction, rubber and coffee products – he holds a major position in Pele Coffee; he trots the world representing Time Warner, MasterCard, Procter & Gamble, Pizza Hut, Pepsi, and his own Pele Sports & Marketing. Products endorsed by Pele range from soccer balls, clothing, and equipment to a Pele soccer video game. Top money sponsors in past 18 months include Volkswagen, Procter & Gamble, Golazo , Emirates, Banco Santander, Subway as well as Coca-Cola – to promote WC Trophy in certain locations.

Hublot had payed him about $500,000 to be allowed to create limited-edition ‘bicycle kick’ watches.

He is frequently a commentator on televised soccer games and in 2001 signed be an analyst with the Pan American Sports Network.  

He became a spokesman for the Pfizer pharmaceutical company's anti-impotency drug, Viagra, in 2002. 

From February 2012, Legends 10 began handling the Pelé brand and brought all marketing and management efforts under one roof, including all intellectual property rights, global licensing, branding, endorsements, and public appearances.  Pele is the majority partner in Sport 10, a company created in 2012 to consolidate the rights to his brand that is named after his uniform number.

WCs are money-making time for Pele with meaty deals and things work, he should be thickly involved in the 2016 Summer Olympics as well. It will depend on deals if he’s able to surpass Michael Jordan’s $90 million annual take.