In 2014, data research institute Datafolha conducted a large-scale poll to find out the identity of the greatest athlete in the history of this country.
A superfluous job. Obviously Neymar, Ronaldo de Lima or Garrincha will receive their own votes but clearly, the identity of the winner is completely predictable. At least to outsiders.
Pele, a three-time World Cup winner and widely acknowledged as the greatest player of all time, is an unstoppable monument.
But surprisingly, he only finished second in this vote, behind F1 racing champion Ayrton Senna, who tragically passed away in early 1994.
The reverse side of Pele
That’s the strange tension at the heart of Pele’s life story: Why, amid the love he’s created everywhere on the planet, it’s his countrymen who have never been able to accept Pele once and for all. completely?
However, even the above question needs to be refined. After all, Brazil also really fell in love with Pele – the super player who helped their country become a preeminent football force. But what about him, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento? Well, this person is hardly loved by Brazil like that.
He himself also seems oblivious to his divided identity: After retiring, he often refers to “Pele” in the… third person, and often describes Pele himself as someone capable of achieving. miracles of supernatural powers.
“Parents will ask Pele to visit their children in the hospital, who are in wheelchairs. I come to visit and the kids will… walk again,” he once said. “Children lie on the hospital bed, refuse to eat, refuse to talk to their father, but when they see me, they will immediately become positive. Other parents call me and say their child has cancer, with only a month left to live. But after I visited, they didn’t go away after that month and even recovered.”
“These are things that have happened many times and certainly demonstrate the close connection between Pele and God,” he asserted.
Those statements were of course not as effective as he would have liked. On the contrary, the man named Edson also raised the barrier between him and the public, with other controversial cases. For example, a sports company he runs was accused of stealing £450,000 from UNICEF.
With actions after leaving the pitch, Edson Arantes do Nascimento seems to have done what was initially almost impossible: Destroying his own golden image in the eyes of the Brazilian public to the point of irretrievable.
The culmination of this negative turn came when Edson refused to acknowledge Sandra Regina Arantes, the unwanted “finished product” from an affair. It was this illegitimate daughter who spent five years fighting in court and finally, through scientific methods of confirmation, won the right to use his surname in 1996. But even so, there were no problems. any relationship between them is built to the will.
When Sandra died of breast cancer at the age of 42 in 2006, Edson didn’t even attend the funeral.
Instead, he sent a wreath which was immediately returned by the Sandra family. For the rest of his life, Edson also refused to discuss his daughter in interviews.
Pele is king, Edson is ‘villain’
“It’s important to emphasize: Pele is one thing and Edson is another,” said former team-mate and 1970 World Cup winner Roberto Rivellino. “He has had some problems off the pitch and cannot set an example for anyone. In some cases, his attitude was clearly wrong, typically by refusing to accept a daughter. Their looks are so similar that I don’t even think a DNA test is necessary. Edson’s actions are absurd.”
Edson always refused to discuss Sandra, though he never hesitated to comment on most other topics (which often cost him his life). When a worker died at the Sao Paulo stadium, which will host the opening match of the 2014 World Cup, Edson argued: “It’s normal and what really worries me is the situation at the airports.” .
And just a year ago, when Brazilians took to the streets to protest against corruption, Edson told them to “forget about it and focus on football”.
In fact, most Brazilians deal with silly statements like this in the usual way: With smiles and shrugs. But when it was said from Pele’s own mouth, it was a different story. The following famous satire from Romario deserves to represent their point of view: “Pele was a poet when he… kept his mouth shut.”
Another major damage to Pele’s reputation, especially with the black working class he was born and raised in, was his failure to confront racism in his own country.
In 2020, Edson chose Black Awareness Day to give Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro a signed shirt. This high-ranking figure once caused outrage with his statement that his “well-educated sons” would “never date a black woman”.
Humanity is infinite
“As the top athlete of the century, one of the most famous figures in the world, but he didn’t use any of it to fight for the right reasons after retiring,” the former 1970 World Cup teammate Paulo Cezar said. “He is more respected than any political or religious leader, but prefers to stay hidden from major debates like racism. His voice disappeared when those things were discussed.”
But on the other hand, being expected to be both a politician or a human rights activist and the greatest player the world has ever seen is simply too much of a burden for any human being. any.
The greatest figure ever compared to Pele, Diego Maradona also certainly never reached such a standard of integrity. Yet “Saint Diego” is absolutely loved in Maradona’s hometown.
Have the Brazilians never been generous enough in their treatment of all of Edson’s or Pele’s imperfections? Meanwhile, they still enjoy the perfect things he does on the pitch.
Hoai Thuan | 19:10 December 30, 2022