Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 11th 2014 Contents A41
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PARIS---Pele is counting on Neymar to lead Brazil
to World Cup victory and erase the painful mem-
ory of the last time the football-mad country
hosted the tournament.
Considered by many to be world s best player,
Pele was only nine years old when Brazil lost to
Uruguay in the final match of the 1950 World Cup.
Pele then led Brazil to the title eight years later,
when he was 17, and again in 1962 and 1970.
With Brazil hosting the tournament this year,
the pressure is on the 22-year-old Neymar, who
scored a hat trick last week in a friendly against
"Neymar is a great player. I know him very well,
because he played for Santos and my son was goal-
keeper there, and then coached in the youth teams,"
the 73-year-old Pele said a news conference at
Paris City Hall, where the World Cup trophy has
been on display since Sunday.
"I think the pressure you speak of exists. What s
important is that he plays for Barcelona and the
fact he left Brazil means that he gained in expe-
After a difficult start to his career in Spain, Ney-
mar has shown glimpses of his potential, scoring
a hat trick in the Champions League against Celtic
and a further seven goals in 20 league games.
Pele thinks leaving the comfort zone of Santos
will prove to serve Neymar, and Brazil.
"In Europe it s more difficult and it s been a great
experience for him to leave Brazil. The six months
have been a great opportunity for him," Pele said
through a translator.
"So he will go to Brazil having gained in expe-
rience. But the pressure won t just be on Neymar,
it will be on the whole of the Brazil team."
But much of the weight of a nation s expectation
will rest on the slender shoulders of Neymar, who
has scored 30 goals in 47 matches for his coun-
"It s going to be very hard. Brazil has a real
football history. The only World Cup held in Brazil
was when we lost against Uruguay, so the Brazilians
still remember that," said Pele, who scored 77 goals
in 92 games for Brazil.
"It will be our chance for revenge. I really hope
the final is against France and I really want to beat
France. It would be great because France has beaten
Brazil the last three times they ve played in the
Pele s mesmerising performance in 1958 thrust
him into the spotlight and, in a career where he
scored more than 1,000 goals---most of them for
Santos---he went on to become the game s first
Still, that 2-1 loss to Uruguay in 1950 in front
of 200,000 disillusioned fans at the Maracana Sta-
dium in Rio de Janeiro haunts him.
"The first World Cup memory I have is not the
best, I remember hearing my father crying," Pele
said. "The idea is to wipe away that memory." (AP)
TORONTO---Lawyers for the family of
Nik Zoricic say they have settled issues
with the International Ski Federation
over the Canadian racer's 2012 death in
a skicross World Cup event.
Toronto legal firm Dandon Recht says
the sport's governing body will pay
CAN$250,000 ($225,000) over five
years to the Nik Zoricic Foundation,
which works to improve skier safety.
The settlement was announced
yesterday, the anniversary of 29-year-
old Zoricic's fatal crash at Grindelwald,
He sustained head injuries when
landing wide right off a final jump into
The legal firm says all parties now
"accept that Nik was not responsible for
his own death."
In a published letter to his family, the
FIS says improved skicross safety
guidelines "will be regarded as the
legacy of Nik Zoricic to the sport." (AP)
LONDON---Tottenham s gamble of selling
Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and using the
proceeds of the world-record fee to bolster
its squad with a slew of new, expensive
players has backfired.
The evidence? Less a glance at the Premier
League standings, more a scroll down Spurs
team sheet for Saturday s Premier League
match against Chelsea.
For one of their biggest games of the sea-
son against a rival they hadn t beaten away
in 24 years, none of the seven players they
splurged a total of about 110 million pounds
($180 million) on last year was selected in
the starting XI.
No Brazil international Paulinho, who cost
a then-club record 17 million pounds. No
Spain striker Roberto Soldado, who eclipsed
that fee when he arrived for 26 million
pounds. The less said about Erik Lamela,
on whom Spurs splashed out 30 million
pounds but who has been a major flop this
season and is currently out injured, the bet-
ter.Instead, Tottenham played three center
backs in a four-man defense, had a right
back playing in midfield and a winger roving
across the frontline.
Chelsea won 4-0, without even playing
The result just about summed up Tot-
tenham s chaotic season that has featured
one-sided defeats of 6-0 and 5-1 to Man-
chester City, 5-0 at home to Liverpool and
a change of manager when Andre Villas-
Boas was replaced by a rookie, Tim Sher-
wood. Indeed, it s a wonder how they are
still fifth in the standings, albeit with fading
hopes of qualifying for next season s Cham-
Meanwhile, Bale is beginning to hit his
stride after a tough start to life in Madrid,
scoring six goals in his last eight games for
club and country and being branded "super-
human" by an international colleague last
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy backed
up his reputation as the ultimate hard-nosed
negotiator by forcing Madrid to part with
100 million euros (then $132 million) to sign
Bale in August.
But there must have been many times
over the last few months when he wondered:
What if he had played hard ball with Bale,
ignored the eye-popping offer Madrid put
on the table and kept the brilliant forward
at White Hart Lane to the terms of his con-
tract, which still had three years to run?
Some say Bale wouldn t have accepted
that, and may have gone on strike. By giving
Spurs the silent treatment while a deal was
being negotiated, he certainly appeared to
be heading that way.
It could have been achieved, though---just
look at Liverpool s dealings with Luis Suarez.
Suarez pushed for a move from Anfield,
even giving newspaper interviews saying the
club had reneged on an agreement that it
would let him go if it didn t qualify for the
Liverpool s American owners didn t flinch.
Suarez stayed and is now spearheading the
second-place team s unlikely charge for the
Premier League title.
Over at Old Trafford, Manchester United
refused to even contemplate Wayne Rooney s
departure amid interest from Chelsea. Not
for sale at any price, was their consistent
message. OK, United has had a wretched
season but Rooney is the happiest he has
been for some time, and even signed a new
contract last month that is likely to see him
finish his career at the club.
If Levy had denied Bale his move, after
initial disgruntlement the winger would likely
have knuckled down and helped Spurs chal-
lenge for the top four. Given the transition
going on at United following Alex Ferguson s
departure and the managerial changes at
City and Chelsea, this was always going to
be the season where the established "Big
Four" of City, United, Arsenal and Chelsea
could be broken up.
Liverpool has managed to do it. It could
have been a Bale-led Tottenham.
Instead, Spurs appear directionless.
Attempts to gel the new players have failed
and Sherwood, hired on an 18-month con-
tract in December, doesn t know if he ll last
beyond this summer. (AP)
can handle World
Zoricic family, ski body settle fatal crash issues
Real's Gareth Bale, right, in action
with Levante's Nikolaos
Karampelas 'Nikos' during a
Spanish La Liga football match
between Real Madrid and Levante
at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium
in Madrid, Spain, Sunday. AP PHOTO
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