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Pelé prophesied the commercial value of the footballer


Decades before footballers understood that they were the basic axis of the business, O Rei functioned as a registered trademark

A unique player on the soccer fields, Pelé had another differential talent available off the pitch: the certainty of his fabulous economic value in a sport that was used to producing idols for the masses, oppressed by slave-owning or extremely stingy laws.

At the age of 17, a beardless Pelé captivated the fans at the 1958 World Cup. Two years earlier he had signed his first contract for Santos: $40 a month, around $425 today or 398 euros a month.

In 1960 he signed a new contract that reflected Pelé's perception of his indisputable importance: $175,000 a year (1.7 million today or 1.6 million euros).

Since soccer embraced professionalism, players have been labeled privileged, a fame that for decades did not correspond to their work obligations, if they could legally be considered that way.

In Spain, footballers were not able to enter Social Security until 1979, the year in which the lien that clubs exercised with their players was formally repealed, although the definitive abolition of this exploitative rule did not take place until 1985.

Pelé alone marked a path that the players have followed between pressures, bad press and court rulings favorable to their labor interests.

The most expansive and transformative was the Bosman ruling, proclaimed in December 1995, fiercely opposed by UEFA and FIFA, who subsequently took advantage of the global freedom of the market to transform football into the impressive industry it is today.

Pelé made his fortune at a time when the maximum weekly salary for an English player was 20 pounds a week (830 euros currently, or 10,000 euros in its annual equivalent).

In 1961, after a threatened general strike in English football, Johnny Haynes, a Fulham midfielder, became the first English player with a weekly contract of 100 pounds (1,900 current euros).

Although Pelé was closely watched by the Brazilian government, which drafted a law making him a national treasure and therefore not transferable to any other country, his entrepreneurial acumen proved as effective as his magic on the pitch.

He soon founded a trading company, which brought together a wide variety of businesses.

In the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, he did not hesitate to break the pact signed by the Dassler brothers (one Adidas, the other Puma) and secretly charge $125,000 for a master play, not with the ball, but with the boots.

Moments before starting the Brazil-Peru game, Pelé asked the referee for time to tie his boots properly.

He took it with unprecedented calm, before the very attentive gaze of the television producer, who concentrated on a pair of Puma Boots, generously paid to Pelé for that unannounced advertisement.

Decades before soccer players understood that they were the basic axis of the business, Pelé functioned as a registered trademark, a corporation that signed million-dollar contracts with Warner to play for the New York Cosmos (seven million dollars between 1975 and 1978, 35 millions of current euros), starring in movies (

Evasion or Victory

), wearing the Mastercard logo on his jacket for 24 years and presenting himself since the late 1960s as the main advertising claim for Pepsi Cola in the world.

Pelé, who was Minister of Sports in the 1990s, never forgot his status as a footballer, nor the benefits he could obtain from his teaching.

As Minister of Sports, he established a law that freed soccer and Brazilian soccer players from a feudal system.

He understood, before and better than everyone, the supreme value of the player in the entertainment industry.

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Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2023-01-03

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