Football legend Pele will attend Saturday’s draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup after he was unveiled as the face of the tournament on Friday.The Brazilian was stunningly not invited to the draw in his home country as his fractured relationship with the head of the Brazilian FA, Ricardo Teixeira, continued to simmer.
But the PR nightmare took a U-turn on Friday, with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff handing the three-time World Cup winner the honour of being the country’s international World Cup ambassador.
“You only go to a party if you are invited,” Pele said.
“If I wasn’t invited, it’s logical I wouldn’t go. He is president of the federation … If he doesn’t invite me, I don’t go.”
“There’s always some confusion or misunderstanding when he (Teixeira) replies or gives an interview. I hope from now on we can clear everything up and we can work properly for the World Cup.”
But FIFA and the organising committee quickly issued a statement refuting Pele’s claim, before adding that the issue was now ‘complete’ with his attendance.
“Because of his importance in the history of football, he was called in April to be not only a guest of honour but mainly to accompany FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke on stage during the ceremony,” the statement said.
“However, Pele responded to the invitation, by email, saying he had other commitments on that date. The event is now complete and gains even more in importance.”
The animosity between Pele and Teixeira dates back to the 1990s when the star footballer was critical of then-FIFA president Joao Havelange, who was the latter’s father-in-law.
As a result Pele was not invited to the draw for the 1994 World Cup draw in Las Vegas in 1993 but a repeat was avoided, which may have been due to FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s involvement.
“I am surprised he was not invited and I will be looking into it,” Blatter said, before Pele’s announcement as his country’s ambassador.