Will soccer-loving Americans travel to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup this summer? Pelé says, Sim! (That’s Portugese for yes.) The soccer legend is encouraging Americans to travel to his native land by flashing that charismatic smile in ads for big sponsors including United Emirates. It will take some convincing. Although Rio de Janeiro is home to the Estádio do Maracanã, the largest stadium in the country (it held nearly 200,000 fans for a FIFA World Cup Finals match), the city is plagued by rampant violence. Federal troops were sent to help deal with violent attacks targeting the city’s police just last month. And in order to avoid protest, FIFA announced that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will not make a speech at the opening ceremony. (At a recent match, he was booed by fans who took to the streets denouncing corruption and the cost of preparations for the World Cup.)
Pelé is doing his best in the States to promote the beautiful game and the Copa do Mundo. Last week at the Soho Apple store in Manhattan he launched the app “Pele, The King of Football.” Each time a player shoots and scores, he/she is automatically entered into a drawing for a pair of tickets to the real World Cup in Brazil. He is also promoting the sport with a new book, “Pele: Why Soccer Matters,” published by Celebra (the celebrity imprint of Random House that focuses on mainstream Hispanic authors). For those Americans who do decide to travel to Brazil for the World Cup, be sure to have your passport and a visa. You will not be allowed in the country without both.