SAO PAULO, Feb 12: Brazilian legend Pele insisted Wednesday he feels racist incidents in football are blown out of proportion and that if there were less column inches given over to those responsible the problem would likely go away.
“If everyone did as (Brazil star) Daniel (Alves), when they threw a ba at him as he took a corner, if they ate it and did nothing then nobody would do anything again,” Pele told UOL web news portal, referring to last year’s incident during a Barcelo game.
On that occasion Alves was praised for coolly picking up the ba and eating it.
But Pele said his point was that racist fans thrived on the attention accorded to their actions. “The big problem is focusing the attention on these idiots who go to games, who are not fans but delinquents,” insisted three-time world champion Pele.
In contrast, fellow Brazilian world champion Roldo had blasted his compatriot for expressing similar sentiments in an interview last September.
Pele insisted that shrugging off racism and carrying on playing was the way to react. “If I’d started fighting every time they used the N-word in the United States, Latin America and Brazil I’d still be embroiled in legal cases the world over,” said the 74-year-old nickmed O Rei (the king). IANS