Over the last few years, in the 24/7 news cycle era, the Argentine maestro and the king of Brazil have become one of the first people that the press run to about big football related items. Because of their collective history and their constant influence on the game, they still command an audience and nearly everything they say gets spread across the internet like wildfire. After Pele came out with yet another press conference result that has us making “foot in mouth” style comments, it makes me wonder why we are still giving these two players anything more than respect.
Pele is now on the record saying that Bayern Munich is not currently the best team in Europe. Firstly, any argument saying that Bayern is anything less than the best in Europe can simply be shot down by asking if they won the Champions League…which, yes, they did. Second, Pele is saying that they have to have a run similar to Barcelona’s at the top. Well, Bayern did not just slip by Barca…they DOMINATED Barca in a 7-0 aggregate thrashing. To have a person that surely follows world football stating anything other than Bayern being the cream of the European crop is insane. Heck, there have been teams that win the CL and lose in their domestic league and the world STILL labels them as the best in Europe (that’s 50% of the reason the CL even exists…the other 50% is $$$).
This type of statement is mirrored by the type of words that Maradona has said in the past. Although Maradona typically plays it safe by stating that Messi is the best in the world (3 straight Ballon D’Ors are difficult to argue against), he is frequently putting stuff out into the world that reminds us all the he was heavily involved with drugs in the 90’s. Although I do think we should respect these two players and their contributions to football, they need to stop being given the power to put this type of garbage out into the world.
There is a reason Michael Jordon is not a basketball analyst and why the NBA has tried to remove the microphone from in front of Jordon (look up his Hall of Fame acceptance speech). FIFA and football media needs to take this note and work it into the sport and allow Maradona and Pele to be viewed from afar. It will cement their legacy without adding these random musings as a negative bookend to their story. But, if they are going to continue to indulge them, they might as well make them commentators and just go all the way…man, that would be fun.