Brazilian football legend Pele turned down the opportunity to help with the 2014 World Cup draw on Friday for fear of handing his country a tough draw.
Expectations are running high. With any sign of a negative draw likely to bring disappointment, Pele has decided to stay well clear.
Per Reuters, via the Daily Mail, he said:
President Dilma (Rousseff) suggested that I represent Brazil when it came to pulling the balls out of the pots, which I've done several times before.
I preferred to turn down the offer because I wouldn't feel comfortable in picking out balls which are not favourable to Brazil.
The World Cup draw will mark the next stage in the build up to next year's greatly anticipated tournament, with group stage opponents set to be decided and potential routes to the final mapped out.
For Brazil, in particular, that will be the thinking. Anything less than a title will be a major disappointment, while failure to reach the final will be treated as a disaster.
Having only hosted the tournament once before, when they fell to Uruguay in the final of the 1950 competition, the five-time champions are determined to make amends next year.
To this day, the disappointment of the Maracanazo holds a major place in the psyche of Brazilian football, as commented on by Sports Illustrated just last month.
The selecao are in pole position in the eyes of many ahead of next summer, with Confederations Cup success a major boost to what is a fairly young group of players—particularly in attack.
Pele: "We hope with the experience Neymar has been getting in Europe he can produce a fine showing with Brazil at the World Cup." [fifa]— barcastuff (@barcastuff) December 4, 2013
Next summer will be difficult once more, with more teams involved and pressure set to be multiplied as the biggest tournament in football arrives in town for the first time in 60 years.
This summer, those wearing the canarinha were able to feed off that pressure. In 2014, though, the knowledge that failure is not an option could weigh heavily on the minds of the "Scolari family."