Pele wants Zico to mount FIFA challenge

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Retired Brazil star and former Japan coach Zico would be an ideal candidate to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, according to Pele.

Pele believes his fellow former Brazil international Zico should consider running to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.

Zico, who earned 71 caps for the Selecao before coaching Japan with some success between 2002 and 2006, has previously expressed his interest in contesting a FIFA presidential election, but has struggled to gain enough support to mount a genuine challenge.

He would have at least one high-profile supporter though, with Pele, widely regarded as one of the game's best-ever players, talking up his countryman's credentials.

"Zico [would] be a good candidate for FIFA presidency," he told a press conference in India.

"He has done well in Japan when he was there. He gave some interviews showing his interest. I know him really well, he is a very nice man. He is a strong candidate."

There is a power vacuum at the head of world and European football's governing bodies following the 90-day bans handed to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini, who is a candidate to succeed the 79-year-old Swiss. 

According to Pele, former France and Juventus star Platini has previously expressed his concerns about the challenges of presiding over the sport's biggest administrative body.   

"It's really difficult to manage FIFA," he said.

"I spoke with Platini, who was one of the best players. He said, it is really difficult to manage at such a high stage. I can't say who I want to be there. I just want a nice man."

While FIFA's reputation has been badly damaged by continual allegations of corruption in recent years, culminating in joint investigations and arrests by Swiss and US authorities, Pele is hopeful football itself will prove bigger than the off-field scandals.

"In FIFA it is the people who are wrong," he said.

"Not the game. The political people are wrong. These problems happen in Brazil, USA. It is hard to deal with issues of corruption, bribery. 

"The number of people who play football in college, schools, professionally, make it the beautiful game. Not the people in FIFA. Football has helped kids from poor areas to develop into great sportsman. 

"[There] are some people who make football bad. The game is still beautiful.

"It is a shame what is happening in FIFA."