"It will be a great opportunity for Brazil" - Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Pele. The King. Arguably the greatest footballer in history is looking beyond the field as Brazil prepares for the World Cup
By Peter Fraser - Follow me on Twitter @SkySportsPeteF
Last Updated: 18/12/13 12:39pm
Brazil is engulfed in concerns about its readiness to stage the most iconic sporting event on the planet, the World Cup. The country's image has taken a battering before next summer's finals amid delayed stadia construction projects, the death of four construction workers, drug-related crime and hooliganism problems.
The stories of violence in Brazil's domestic football are the most recent to surface after last week's clashes at a top-flight game between Atletico Paraenense and Vasco da Gama. It led the country's sports minister, Aldo Rebelo, to demand a tougher line on hooligans and he said: "Whoever commits the kind of violence we saw should be detained forthwith. It constitutes attempted homicide."
Both sides were fined and will have to play matches behind closed doors next season after the shocking scenes, which were the latest in Brazil shooting itself in the foot in terms of World Cup PR - while it should not be forgotten the country will also host the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
There has also been widespread outrage and protests at the high sums of money being used to pay for hosting the World Cup being channelled away from areas such as the country's health service, which has only painted a similarly grim picture about the tournament.
But, at the same time, there are undisputedly high hopes of a samba party in six months, with the South American nation - from a footballing perspective at least - personifying what millions of people around the globe still believe to be pure about the Beautiful Game.
A successful footballing tournament could likewise provide widespread associated benefits, such as the financial positives of tourism, improved nationwide infrastructure and many other socio-economic influences for Brazil.
This is a point being made by Pele. Considered by many to have been the greatest player ever, above the likes of former Argentina international Diego Maradona or even current stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the now-73-year-old played in four World Cups with Brazil, winning three of those tournaments in 1958, 1962 and 1970 while only the brutality of defenders at the 1966 World Cup in England prevented him from having more of an influence at the only finals in which he did not win.
Speaking about Brazil's issues, including the violence at stadia, at the inauguration of the 'Brazil, one country, one world' exhibition in capital city Brasilia, Pele is quoted as saying by globoesporte: "These events, problems happen the same way in several countries. And it is not just football. Hopefully at the World Cup we can think more seriously in Brazil. It will be a great opportunity for Brazil to become one of the largest countries in the world. It is the dearest but I think in those big sporting events [the World Cup and the Olympics] Brazil has the opportunity to grow as a country. So I think that all Brazilians should help us."
The 'Brazil, one country, one world' exhibition will showcase iconic shirts, shoes and footballs from the history of the game and the national team in World Cups. It will travel through all the host cities ahead of the 2014 World Cup before finishing in June, with a simultaneous exhibition in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro - the host cities for the opening game and the final.
Pele will of course be a prominent theme and it is therefore with fitting timing that 19th December marks an anniversary of the legend scoring the 1,000th goal of his career during a game in 1969 for Santos against Vasco da Gama. After Pele had converted a penalty, the Vasco goalkeeper took off his jersey revealing a shirt which bore a message congratulating Pele on his achievement.
There will, though, be too many classic Pele moments to include all of them in the exhibition as even the man himself finds it tough to narrow it down. Asked about his favourite football moments from his career, Pele joked: "I do not have time to tell all my memories if I start talking since the first World Cup in 1958, when I was 17, which is something unforgettable. [I was]the youngest player to compete in a World Cup and win the World Cup. These are things that we do not forget. There could also fail to be mention of the World Cup in Mexico, which was my last World Cup. Up to today, I am the only Brazilian player to have three cups, too."
Brazil will now be aiming to create some more iconic memories next summer.