x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Pele believes 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be best one yet

The great Brazil football legend Pele has moved to allay fears regarding his country's organisation of the 2014 World Cup.

The great Brazil football legend Pele has moved to allay fears regarding his country's organisation of the 2014 World Cup and believes it will be the best one yet.

The South American nation's preparations have been dogged by speculation regarding their progress, with transport problems and half-built stadiums raising concern.

The issues are highlighted by fact construction on the venue for the opening match in Sao Paulo has only just begun, but Pele believes the country will rise to the challenges that face them over the next three years.

"It is OK," he said. "We have had a little problem there and everybody knows that. I worried a little bit because we worked for years to have the Olympics and the World Cup.

"Then we get them both and have a little bit of a problem with the administration in Brazil.

"This was more in Sao Paulo and even now they do not have a stadium decided, but the rest of Brazil is already done.

"I was with the President of Brazil Mrs Dilmar [Rousseff] last week and she [pledged to] do the hard work to avoid any problems.

"I have no doubt it will be the best World Cup."

As well as quashing rumours regarding Brazil's administration, Pele dispelled rumours of a feud with the nation's football chief Ricardo Teixeira.

Pele, 70, failed to receive an official invitation to last week's World Cup qualifying draw and needed an honorary ambassadorship from the government to attend the Rio de Janeiro event.

"I have not had a fight with Ricardo Teixeira. It is not true, I respect him," he said. "It wasn't really anything. We want to have an excellent World Cup and that is what we're going to try and do.

"He has his problems with the media who don't like him but I hope this doesn't affect the football."

Speaking at an event in London to launch the New York Cosmos Opus, Pele pinpointed a player set to star at the 2014 World Cup on home soil — precocious youngster Neymar.

The 19-year-old attacker is considered one of the brightest prospects in world football at the moment and has been linked with a number of elite clubs this summer.

Neymar currently plays for Pele's former club and the former World Cup winner acknowledges it will be a challenge to persuade him to stay with Santos.

"I think it is very difficult to keep him in Brazil," Pele said. "Santos is my team and he started there with us.

"I hope he stays there until more or less the 2014 World Cup but it will be a little difficult to keep him here.

"He is a good player, there's no doubt. He will be like a Kaka, a Messi - of that there is no doubt. Or a Ronaldo, a Zico, a Pele.

"He is an excellent player. I hope that he does [reach his potential]."