Pele inches closer to playing for Santos in Club World Cup

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

Last year, a great short film was made about a then 69-year-old Pele coming out of retirement in an effort to score one last goal for the Brazilian national team. The current president of Pele's former club, Santos, might have taken that surreal film a little more seriously than most, because he's doing everything in his power to get Pele to play for the Copa Libertadores winners in the Club World Cup this December.

When Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro first floated the idea of putting Pele on the team, it sounded like a joke and an over-the-top marketing ploy. Now it's a joke and an over-the-top marketing ploy that's quite close to actually happening.

From Sambafoot:

Pelé, who inspired Santos to their only previous Copa Libertadores triumphs, will now be contacted once more by Ribeiro, with his agreement the only obstacle between Pelé and the tournament in Japan.

However, Ribeiro is confident of the legend's participation based on their previous conversations.

"Pele was positive and promised to 'train to get fit and participate in a few minutes', if possible," said the President talking to Radio Globo.

"I have talked to Muricy. Now the only stumbling block is Pelé. He will be registered with the number 10 shirt."

Earlier, in a separate interview with Globe Esporte, Ribeiro had explained his reasoning.

"At the time of my speech [in the board meeting], it struck me that Pele was a three time World Champion (1958, 62 and 70) with the national team, but only twice with Santos (62 and 63 - Intercontinental Cup).

"Now, 48 years later, he will have the opportunity to be a three time World Champion at club level also, as part of the Santos team."

In practical terms, giving a valuable roster spot to a septuagenarian is completely ridiculous. But in every other way it's pretty awesome. The Club World Cup is an afterthought as it is, so if a 70-year-old legend trying to run around for a few minutes brings far more attention to the tournament (and it will), then the positives outweigh the momentary silliness. Plus, it's Pele! I'm pretty sure international laws are in place to allow Pele to do whatever he wants for the rest of his days, up to and including a wide variety of trespassing offenses.

Photo: AP

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