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Pele brings sporting stars together for charity auction



Want a Brazil jersey owned by Pele? An All Blacks shirt signed by Dan Carter? A New York Yankees photo autographed by Derek Jeter? David Beckham’s AC Milan shirt?

Those items, plus others from Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe, are among 229 that will be up for sale next month at an auction organised by the Brazil football legend for the foundation he created in 2018 to help underprivileged children.

The 80-year-old, who is the only player to claim three World Cup winner’s medals and a man often called the greatest footballer of all time, said all monies raised will help Brazil’s fight against and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

So far 575,000 people have died in the largest South American country from Covid-19, the second-highest death toll in the world after the United States.

“Pele is such a legend, he’s an icon and other sports stars look up to Pele,” Martin Nolan, executive director and chief financial officer of Beverly Hills-based Julien’s Auctions, told Reuters.

“Because he was at home in his bubble he had the time to focus on this project.”


Pele has provided some of his own items for the Sept 22 auction but he has also called in favours from friends in the sports and entertainment worlds.

There are Brazil, Santos and New York Cosmos jerseys and photos autographed by Pele, and others signed by ex-Brazil teammates such as Rivellino, Jairzinho and Clodoaldo.

Mario Zagallo, the coach of the revered 1970 Brazil World Cup-winning side, who turned 90 earlier this month, also contributed as did Neymar, Italian Roberto Baggio and Cameroonian Roger Milla.

Pele’s foot

World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer signed a number of photographs from his NY Cosmos and West Germany days; there’s a match ball from the 2015 Champions League final; and shirts and equipment used in basketball, American football, field hockey and water polo are also up for grabs.

One of the items expected to fetch a high price is a gold-plated bronze cast of Pele’s foot made by celebrity sculptor Dante Mortet.


Outside football, singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake, actor-producer Mark Wahlberg, retired Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova and the National Basketball Association all donated items.

“Anything from Pele people will want, but you mention Ronaldo, you mention Mbappe, those icons will be sought after,” said Nolan of the Portugal and France forwards.

“But because it is a charity auction people always show up, they are always extremely generous and they pay more than in a normal auction because they know it is going to a good cause.”

This is not the first auction organised by Pele. In 2016 he auctioned more than 1,600 items from a collection he accumulated over six decades in the limelight and raised 3.6 million pounds (S$6.7 million).

This latest auction will take place at the Mall Galleries in London and is also open to online bidders.



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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