South America’s football chief said Sunday that FIFA should honour the legacy of Pele and Diego Maradona by awarding the centennial 2030 World Cup to the continent.
With competition intensifying before the global body decides on the event in 2024, Alejandro Dominguez said there should be less focus on “money” in the process.
Uruguay, which held the original 13-team World Cup in 1930, has linked up with Argentina, Chile and Paraguay to bid for the 2030 event, which will be the second with 48 teams.
The main challenge is a joint bid from Spain, Portugal and Ukraine, which has European governing body UEFA’s backing. Reports have said Saudi Arabia could launch a bid with Egypt and Greece.
Asked at an event honouring the ailing Pele whether the former Brazil star or the legacy of late Argentina great Maradona could help sway the decision, Dominguez said FIFA had to choose between football and money.
“The question is for FIFA — what do they plan to do with the history created by Pele and later Maradona?” said the head of CONMEBOL, the South American confederation.
“It really should be back to the roots because football is not just about money. It should not be about the competition of who puts up the most money for a World Cup.”
“It should also be about recognising who made this party possible,” Dominguez added, referring to Pele and Maradona, as well as Uruguay as hosts of the first World Cup.
Dominguez said CONMEBOL had also proposed that Brazil change its national shirt to honour Pele, 82, who was hospitalised this month as he battles cancer.
The badge on the shirt has five stars at the top to mark each of the country’s World Cup wins. Pele was in the winning team three times.
Dominguez said the proposal was for Brazil to “change three of their stars for three hearts, in homage to the king.”
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