Go to contents

Soccer Icons Speak Their Minds on World Cup

Posted July. 05, 2010 12:51,   


Soccer icons Pele of Brazil, Franz Beckenbauer of Germany, Johan Cruyff of the Netherlands, and Eusébio of Portugal wrote big chapters in the history of the World Cup and remain active in the sport.

Among their numerous duties is to provide critical comments on soccer’s biggest tournament. They have done so about the South Africa tournament without reservation.

Before the quarterfinal between the Netherlands and Brazil, Cruyff, who led his country to the final in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, said the “Brazilian magic” has disappeared and that he would not pay to see the game. His comment was apparently intended to provoke Brazil, which beat his country in 1994 and 1998.

Brazil coach Dunga responded by saying “It’s up to him. Cruyff can pay to watch this game if he wants to. There are games on offer and democracy allows you to make your own choice. But I’m sure he wouldn’t have to pay for a ticket anyway.”

The Selecao allowed the Oranje to rally for a 2-1 victory. Brazil’s elimination heaped criticism on its coach, who preferred substance over the country’s flashy style of the past.

Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup as a player in 1974 and as coach in 1990, slammed England. After England’s 1-1 draw with the U.S. in their first group match, he said English soccer had headed "backwards into the bad old days of kick and rush.”

“The English are being punished for the very few English players in Premier League clubs as they use better foreign players from all over the world,” he said.

After England was determined as Germany’s opponent in the second round, he launched another attack on England, saying its players looked “burned out.” After Germany’s 4-1 win, he said his country was ahead of England in every aspect.

Eusébio criticized what he called regression in soccer technique, saying there were many good players all over the world in the 1960s when soccer was less commercial.

In contrast, Pele’s comments have reaffirmed his “curse.” Before the opening of the South Africa World Cup, he named Brazil and Spain as the strongest teams and expressed hope that his country would face an African country in the final.

After the schedule for the quarterfinals were set, he predicted that Brazil would face either Germany or Argentina in the final.

This created anxiety in Brazilians, who grew uneasy over his curse, and their worry was realized in Brazil’s upset defeat to the Netherlands. Though Pele might have made his predictions to encourage his national team, his forecasts again proved the negative effect of his curse on the Brazilian team.