Old ri­vals Pele, Maradona end feud dur­ing ex­hi­bi­tion match

Pakistan Observer - - SPORTS -

PARIS—Diego Maradona hailed his old ri­val Pele as an “icon” as the pair were re­united for a “match of friend­ship”. The 75-year-old Brazil great and 55-year-old Ar­gen­tine leg­end even em­braced dur­ing the five-a-side ex­hi­bi­tion game in a sign that they have drawn a line un­der their long-run­ning feud.

“I want to thank Pele, we know who he is and who he will al­ways be. We need icons like him,” said Maradona, who starred in Argentina’s 1986 World Cup tri­umph.

Pele, a three-time world cham­pion, also struck a con­cil­ia­tory tone in re­sponse.

“The most im­por­tant is the mes­sage of peace. Many thanks to my friend Maradona for this op­por­tu­nity and a big round of ap­plause to the play­ers who have been here to­day,” said Pele.

“This peace.”

It was a far cry from the ac­ri­mony be­tween them when FIFA was try­ing to de­cide the player of the 20th Cen­tury in 2000.

The world body or­gan­ised an on­line vote which Maradona eas­ily won. But FIFA thought the on­line users at the time were too young and so the vote was skewed in Maradona’s favour.

It then or­gan­ised a vote by read­ers of the FIFA mag­a­zine and cast by an in­ter­na­tional jury. This time Pele won by a land­slide.

FIFA de­cided to split the award and named Pele and Maradona as the two great­est play­ers of all time.

“I had the vote of the peo­ple, Pele won by for­feit,” said Maradona, who walked out of a is a mo­ment of Rome gala so he did not see the Brazil­ian col­lect his award.

Maradona later ac­cused Pele of let­ting his for­mer Brazil team­mate Gar­rin­cha “die in mis­ery”. Pele re­sponded that Maradona was “sick”.

Maradona thrilled the crowd at the Palais Royal with a cameo ap­pear­ance in the 30-minute five-a-side con­test. Pele, still re­cov­er­ing from a hip op­er­a­tion in Jan­uary, re­mained in his coach­ing role on the touch­line.

The event, or­gan­ised by a Swiss watch­maker with UEFA, fea­tured the likes of for­mer France striker David Trezeguet, Italy goal­keeper An­gelo Peruzzi and Dutch mid­fielder Clarence See­dorf.

Ex-Brazil for­ward Be­beto, a 1994 World Cup win­ner, also took part along­side Rio Fer­di­nand, Dida, Her­nan Cre­spo and Fer­nando Hierro as the match fin­ished in a diplo­matic 8-8 draw.—AFP

Diego Maradona hugs Pele be­fore an ex­hi­bi­tion game at the Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris.

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