Pele declared that Spain's current squad (which won the Euro 2012 tournament) is less than Brazil's squad that won the 1970 World Cup. Pele made his declarations in an interview that appeared in Reuters with a h/t to Goal.
The Santos and Brazilian star went further and suggested that Spain has "two or three great players" compared with Brazil in 1970. Pele later admitted that he enjoyed watching the Spanish Euro 2012 squad play football.
While having tremendous respect for Pele and the Brazilian squad that won the 1970 FIFA World Cup, he is not helping himself (and Brazil) with comments comparing Spain in 2012 with Brazil in 1970.
A decision was made to state the important reasons and defend [briefly] the Spanish Euro 2012 squad.
Perfection + Idealization = Never Satisfied
The concept of comparing one player and/or one team with another is based on two flaws which are perfection and idealization. Perfection is a concept that never existed, does not exist, and will never exist since there are athletes and clubs better or worse than others.
When a person compares an athlete on the basis of an idealization of another athlete, what happens when the ideal athlete does not meet expectations?
In the beginning of 2012, Pele said that Neymar was better than Lionel Messi in an interview published in the Associated Press with a h/t to ESPN. In June of 2012, Pele (in a declaration to AFP with a h/t to Brooks Deck of Dirty Tackle and Yahoo) criticized Neymar and the Brazilian Olympic team after their loss to Mexico.
There will always be a person and/or team (club) who is better or worse than another.
Criticism Boomerangs at Critic
The saying "Do not judge or you too will be judged" can apply to critics. It is easy to criticize others without looking at one's self, especially in the sports world.
Allan Jiang (a fellow B/R writer) wrote an article with the title "Top 5 Things That Pele Does Not Want You To Know". It is an interesting article which discusses Pele and his achievements.
According to the archives of FIFA for the 1970 World Cup, Pele appears in fifth place (with four points) as the top goal scorer behind Gerd Mueller of Germany with ten goals and Jairzinho of Brazil with seven goals.
While Pele was awarded the Best Young Player Award during the 1958 World Cup, he was in second place with six goals with Just Fontaine of France in first with 13 goals. This was published in the archives of FIFA.com.
Spain: The Players and Achievements
Pele says that Spain has two or three great players in comparing the squad with Brazil's 1970 World Cup squad. Spain has many players drawn from the ranks of clubs such as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, and others.
Who could forget Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Fernando Torres, and Gerard Pique? What about Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, and Andres Iniesta?
Spain won three consecutive tournaments, which were Euro 2008, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2012. The reason was the tenacity, discipline, defense, goalkeeping and unity within the squad.
At the present rate, Spain may win the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
While Pele continues to be one of the greatest players in football history, he risks tarnishing his legacy with unnecessary comparisons and judgments.
Whether he will stop making them remains to be seen.