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Robinho threatens to sue Pele over drug comments

BRAZIL striker Robinho threatened Pele with legal action yesterday over the former great's suggestion that he had a drug problem.

The Manchester City forward is angry at Pele's comments last week that Robinho and Ronaldo both had a drug problem. Robinho's representatives want Pele to explain the comments attributed to him and apologize if they were accurately reported.

"A formal retraction from Pele will be requested, if what he said was not misinterpreted by the media that published it," a statement on Robinho's personal Website said. "And if Pele does not come forward, he will have to deal with his very unfortunate comment in court."

The 25-year-old Robinho has impressed sporadically since joining Manchester City from Real Madrid this season. His attitude has been questioned by teammates including Craig Bellamy and manager Mark Hughes fined him for flying to Brazil without permission for a party, but there had been no suggestion that he was involved in any illegal activity.

Pele's comments to a Brazilian radio station appeared to suggest that any transgression was in the past.

"It's unfair to talk of drugs in football just because of one or two cases, as happened with Ronaldo and Robinho, who had that problem," Pele said.

Pele helped Brazil win three World Cups before retiring in 1977 and is widely regarded as football's greatest ever player. Since retiring, he has been a spokesman for a credit card company and advertised Viagra, the anti-impotence drug.

"Robinho is upset and disappointed at Pele, who seems to have forgotten the great idol he was," the statement on Robinho's site said. "It appears Pele must be reading sensationalist (media) to come up with such a wrongful statement."

Elsewhere, Brazil coach Dunga, usually seen as a tough, uncompromising figure, touched on a personal drama and came close to tears in a television interview.

Dunga, a hard-tackling former midfielder who snarled his way through three World Cups, became emotional when he was asked about the pressures involved in his job, one of the sport's toughest.

The coach, who has been heavily criticized since taking over as coach in 2006, used the example of his parents to put the situation into perspective.

"Nobody suffers more pressure than my mother," said Dunga in the programme Painel RBS.

"My father has had Alzheimer's for eight years and she's always by his side, she has not at any moment weakened, so I'm not going to be the one who becomes weak.

"People can say what they want, there's nothing worse than that," added the spiky-haired coach, holding back tears.

Dunga, who had no top-level coaching experience before taking the national job, has been widely accused of using a lackluster playing style, despite steering Brazil to the Copa America title in 2007.

Although Brazil is second in the South American World Cup qualifying group, it is six points adrift of leader Paraguay and has been held 0-0 in its last three home games.

"The qualifiers are tougher than the World Cup," said Dunga. "When you play away to Peru, Ecuador and Chile, they whole country is united to play against Brazil. And when we play in Brazil, there are restrictions, problems and controversies.

"This creates an atmosphere which makes things a little difficult.

"The players who come from Europe have trouble in adapting to the time difference and have to make long journeys. When we have 15 days to train, the standard will be different."


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