Brazilian football legend Pele has said he is very saddened by the political turmoil in his country and expressed the hope there will be a “big government” in place in time for the Rio Olympic Games in August.
“Thanks to football, with my teammates, we succeeded in making Brazil known to the whole world,” said Pele, who played in three World Cup-winning teams between 1958 and 1970, in comments published Sunday.
However “now… the huge political confusion worries me and greatly saddens me”, the 75-year-old said in an interview with the daily La Vanguardia, published in the football-mad city of Barcelona in northeast Spain.
“The only thing I can hope for is that we have a big government in place for the Olympic Games… and that we win gold in the football,” the former Brazilian sports minister added.
His intervention came two days after Brazil’s interim president Michel Temer kicked off his new administration, seeking to resuscitate the economy and steer clear of the corruption scandal that helped bring down his predecessor Dilma Rousseff.
The tumultuous transfer of power ended 13 years of rule by the leftist Workers’ Party, which helped lift tens of millions of people from poverty with progressive social programs but became mired in corruption scandals, recession and political paralysis.
Rousseff, elected to the presidency in 2010 and again in 2014, was suspended from office on Thursday to face impeachment, on charges that she broke budget accounting laws, ceding power to her vice president Temer.
La Vanguardia said that Pele spoke openly about the situation is his country while his press people had tried to ban all political questions.
“My dream is that my children, now aged 17 and 18, will get the chance to see a Brazil without problems, a Brazil without corruption, a better Brazil,” said Pele in the interview.
Pele, who served as sports minister from 1995-1998 under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, incurred the rath of some of his countrymen in 2014 when he criticised those protesting against the organisation of the World Cup held in Brazil that year.
The Rio Olympics, which will open on August 5, will be the first to be held in South America.