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Worried Pele urges FIFA to bring in salary cap

PELE has urged world soccer's governing body FIFA to introduce a salary cap for players and warned that the vast sums of money changing hands in the game could taint its image for future generations.

The former Brazil forward, in Nigeria to promote Rio de Janeiro's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, said he was concerned about how the game had changed with the influx of money from billionaire owners.

"My time was a little different - we did not have the big sponsors," Pele said in an interview at the Brazilian embassy in Nigeria's capital Abuja late on Monday.

"Today they have big sponsors, big companies to support football. But in my point of view and the point of view of FIFA, these (players' salaries) must be controlled."

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has spoken out about the huge sums of money in the game, echoing concerns from Europe's ruling body UEFA and other sports officials.

However, Blatter also welcomed Cristiano Ronaldo's 80-million pound (US$131.3 million) move from Manchester United to Real Madrid, saying it demonstrated the game's enduring popularity. The Spanish side has recently splashed out more than US$300 million to bring in Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Kaka and Raul Albiol.

Pele warned that soccer's image could be tainted for future generations if huge amounts of money continued to change hands in the sport.

"You get a player today that they announce in Manchester United, Real Madrid or Milan or any other team, and they kiss their shirt," the three-time World Cup winner said after an event donating soccer balls to Nigerian children.

"The next day, he goes to another team and he kisses that shirt. This, I think, is something we have to pay attention to for the next generation."

Pele, along with other members of Rio's delegation, was to make a pitch to International Olympic Committee members in Abuja yesterday.

Fellow candidates for the 2016 Games - Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid - will also make their case for hosting the event to IOC members. A winner will be chosen on October 2 in Copenhagen, Denmark.


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