The son of the late Brazilian football legend, Pele, said that his father would “without a doubt be sad if he were with us today” about the state of Brazilian football, in light of the danger of depriving the national team of international participation, due to the issue of the dismissal of the president of the local federation of the game.
Edinho, one of Pele’s seven children and a former goalkeeper who became a coach, said in an interview with Agence France-Presse that his father “was always worried about the fate of Brazilian football.”
Pele died last December 29, at the age of 82, after a battle with colon cancer.
One year after the death of the legendary striker, who held the World Cup title three times with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970, the “Seleção” led by Neymar, who was injured on October 18 and will be absent until at least next summer, is not achieving good results.
After 6 rounds since the start of the South American qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, the Brazilian team occupies the sixth and final place, qualifying directly to the finals scheduled in the United States, Mexico and Canada, after its last loss to Argentina 0-1 at the legendary Maracana Stadium on November 22.
Edinho (53 years old), who coaches Londrina, a club in the Paraná state league relegated to the Brazilian third division, said, “The crisis did not appear overnight. Rather, these are important and complex problems.”
He continued: “We are witnessing a decline… We still have great players, but in the past we had a greater number of players at a higher level compared to today.”
The problem currently is not limited to the results or the quality of the players, as an institutional crisis was added to this with the dismissal of Edinaldo Rodriguez from the presidency of the Brazilian Football Confederation, on December 7th, by a judicial decision, after the Rio de Janeiro court invalidated an agreement that allowed his election.
The Special Law Chamber of the Court of Justice in Rio de Janeiro explained in a statement, “The body will have to hold new elections within 30 days, and until then, the President of the Supreme Court of Justice will be responsible for managing the Brazilian Football Confederation.”
This court invalidated an agreement between the Brazilian Federation and the Rio Public Prosecutor’s Office, dating back to March 2022, which subsequently allowed Rodriguez to be elected as head of the Federation until 2026.
The consequences of Rodriguez’s dismissal may reach the point of excluding Seleção from international participation, according to what a source in the American federation CONMEBOL warned in a statement to Agence France-Presse.
He said that the continental and international federations (FIFA) “will not tolerate any external interference in the internal affairs of the Brazilian Federation, and will not hesitate to stop Brazil if Rodriguez is not returned to the presidency of the Federation.”
Santos Club, where Pele, number 10, celebrated most of his titles, is also going through a difficult period, as the club fell to the second division for the first time since its founding 111 years ago.
Edinho, who played for Santos for several years, commented: “Unfortunately, this is not a surprise. Anyone who has lived with the club for years can expect such a scenario that ended with the club reaping what it sowed,” referring to the financial, sporting and institutional crisis.
Friday will be the first anniversary of the death of Pele, whose tomb in the Ecumenical Memorial cemetery in Santos was opened by Brazil to visitors last May.
Pele’s six living children will hold an “intimate” virtual meeting, as some of them live in the United States, and a mass is scheduled to be held in front of his museum.
Edinho concluded his talk about his father, saying: “He carried the country’s name through football, which we are very proud of. He was exceptional. We miss him very much.”