Edson Cholbi do Nascimento, the son of former Brazil forward Pele, has reportedly been sentenced to 33 years in prison after being found guilty of laundering money obtained through drug trafficking.
BBC News reported Sunday morning that "Edinho," who played for his father's former club Santos as a goalkeeper during the 1990s, "admits he had a drug problem but denies the trafficking charges."
The 43-year-old was previously arrested in 2005 and sentenced as part of an operation to dismantle a drug ring in his home city of Santos, where Edinho was reportedly linked to a "notorious drug dealer," per BBC News.
BBC News quoted Pele's reaction in 2006 to his son's charges: "God willing, justice will be done. There is not a shred of evidence against my son."
Sky News note that Edinho will be allowed to remain free pending appeal, adding, "Though he admits buying drugs from the cartel, he denies working with them."
Praia Grande criminal court in Sao Paulo also handed out identical sentences to three other defendants and ordered that all property seized by the police operation be confiscated. Sky News report that this included "about 100 cars."
With this summer's World Cup scheduled to kick off in a fortnight's time, the tournament's ambassador, Pele, must now deal with this as well.
Brazil has already come under scrutiny for its failure to have all appointed stadiums ready in time for the competition, and the Daily Mail's David Kent quotes Pele in lambasting the disorganisation:
There has been significant time to get the stadiums finished. The situation is unacceptable – it is a disgrace. The political situation is difficult. Our team has nothing to do with the ongoing corruption that has delayed construction of the stadiums.
It is not the problem of the players but the situation worries me a great deal. The evil people who have stolen all the money are to blame. Protests against corruption are understandable – but not the use of the force.
Edinho held a post as goalkeeping coach at Santos. He retired in 1999 after a playing career that spanned nine years.
Pele, 73, is widely regarded as one of the most iconic and influential stars from world football. After already speaking out against the timing of the construction of the stadiums, Pele's personal situation could very well play a role within the media heading toward the start of the tournament.
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