Brazilian club Santos wants 70 year old Pelé to play in the Club World Cup alongside their current stars Henrique Ganso and Neymar when they face FC Barcelona. Why? Because they believe it could be a great chance for marketing, of all things.
And because they can, basically.
No, this is not a joke. I swear.
We all know both Santos and Pelé himself like the spotlight. But this has clearly gone too far.
Even if he's only taking a penalty, there's no way to justify a 70 year old man from competing in an official tournament. The man retired 33 years ago, for Christ's sake!
I don't even like when these "homages" happen in friendly matches, as they always seem extremely out of place to me and very forced-in.
For me, it doesn't matter if he's the best player to ever grace the pitch (fact which I severely dispute myself), registering a former star for a FIFA-sanctioned event must certainly be the first of its kind.
Argentina flirted with a similar idea when they wanted to retire Maradona's No.10 jersey and FIFA wouldn't let them, saying only registered players could be assigned jersey numbers.
"Let's add Maradona to our team in every World Cup" some clever Argentinian must've thought. But thanks to Divine forces, they finally took a step away from the madness of including Diego (and playing the tournament without a player) until the end of time.
But if Santos doesn't realize just how crazy this is, somebody will have to step in to stop their madness. If it were Maradona, I'm sure FIFA would be downright offended at the pure thought of it happening. Yet with Pelé, I'm leaning towards the idea that football's governing body just might let it slide.
And let's face it: the Club World Cup isn't exactly the most prestigious tournament to begin with, so it's not in their best interest to start having retired former stars taking penalties just for the fun of it.
If I were Barcelona (or any of Santos' rivals, for that matter) I'd be downright offended if the opposing team were fielding old men against me. Regardless of whether they're named Pelé or not.
I know the show-business part of football is important, but how will an official sporting event like the Club World Cup have any sort of credibility if a 70 year old's prancing around?
I don't really care how Santos' madness is stopped, but I seriously hope I never see Pelé again on a football pitch.
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