May 20, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT
With less than a month to go until the World Cup kicks off in Brazil, Pele has lambasted organizers of the event.
The Brazilian hero, who helped the Selecao win three of their five World Cups burst onto the scenes in the 1958 finals as a teenager, is largely considered to be the greatest player the world has even seen.
So, Pele’s opinion matters and his critical comments came during a talk at Anahuac University in Mexico City, where he backed protestors who oppose the spending but doesn’t agree with the violent nature in which they are voicing their anger.
Recent figures state that Brazil is spending about $11 billion overall on the World Cup and $4 billion alone on 12 new and refurbished stadiums. Pele, 73, believes this money could be much better spent elsewhere.
“It’s clear that politically speaking, the money spent to build the stadiums was a lot, and in some cases was more than it should have been,” Pele said. “Some of this money could have been invested in schools, in hospitals. … Brazil needs it. That’s clear. On that point, I agree (with the protests). But I lament what protesters are doing, which is breaking and burning everything. It’s money that we will have to spend again.”
Pele wasn’t done there as he then slated the preparations of the stadiums and believed the uncertainty surrounding whether many venues would be ready in time has had an impact on the number of tourists who will visit this summer. Pele singled out the venue in his old stomping ground of Sao Paulo which is meant to host the opening game of the tournament on June 12 between Brazil and Croatia. Part of the roof will not be complete until after the World Cup is finished on July 13.
“We already know that 25 percent of foreigners who are going to Brazil (for the World Cup) are worried about this movement (protests), and I think they have even canceled (their trip). So this is a great loss for the country,” Pele added. “The first match is going to be in the Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, which is called Itaquerao. But there’s a problem because it’s not finished yet. That’s what I say is regrettable. That’s a problem.”
Pele is worried. The outside world seems to be worried. What about the organizers and people in charge?
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