Pele asked to light Rio pyre, checks with sponsors

Tue Aug 2, 2016 10:44pm EDT
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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Pele has been invited to light the Olympic pyre for the Rio Games on Friday but the Brazilian soccer great is checking with his sponsors to see if he is free to lead the torch ceremony in the Maracana stadium.

"I have a contract that I am bound to fulfill," Pele told Globo TV late on Tuesday, adding that he was consulting the U.S. company that holds the rights to his brand name whether he can take up the invitation from the Olympic organizing committee.

"As a Brazilian, I'd love to do it," said the 75-year-old, who helped his country win the World Cup three times and would be launching the Games in the stadium where he scored his 1,000th goal in 1969.

Pele later told reporters that International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and the head of the Brazilian committee Carlos Arthur Nuzman had personally asked him to light the pyre and that he would have an answer on Thursday.

He said he would have to cancel a trip organized by his sponsors.

Pele, regarded as the greatest player of all time, played in four World Cups and is the only player to have won it three times: in 1958 in Sweden, when he was just 17, in 1962 in Chile and in 1970 in Mexico.

(Reporting by Maria Pia Palermo; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Brazilian soccer legend Pele poses for picture after receiving an Olympic necklace from President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach at the Pele Museum in Santos, Brazil June 16, 2016.  REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker