The Confederations Cup begins Saturday in Brazil and Pele wants the the home fans to play nice. Since Brazil automatically qualify for the 2014 World Cup as the host nation, competitive matches have been limited for them, allowing the bitter tastes from their quarterfinal loss to Paraguay in the 2011 Copa America and the gold-medal game loss to Mexico in last summer's Olympics to fester. Now Pele is asking his countrymen not to jeer their team, even if they fail to defend their Confederations Cup title.
“A request to all Brazilians, to those who love Brazilian football, to respect this preparation period before the Confederations Cup,” Pele was quoted as saying by O Povo. “Don’t jeer the team, and don’t bring violence to the stadiums. Let’s host a clean cup - even if the team doesn’t perform well, we should not jeer - and support the players, because they need this."
Brazil are coming off an encouraging 3-0 friendly win against France (and a not so encouraging 2-2 draw against England). Though the tournament is little more than a warm-up for the World Cup, pressure will stil be high on Brazil. Neymar will likely get the brunt of that pressure, especially after his €57-million transfer from Santos to Barcelona.
In April, he got a taste of those jeers Pele is hoping to quiet. From the AP:
He was loudly jeered by home fans after playing poorly in a 2-2 draw in a friendly with Chile.
''Nobody likes to be booed, but I don't really care,'' Neymar said. ''I know what I can do.''
In other words, haters gonna hate. Unless they listen to Pele. Which they probably won't.
For more pictures of Pele holding a ball between his head and someone else's, check out the Pele "Lets Head Together!" Tumblr.