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Pele organizes auction to help pandemic fight

China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-25 09:37
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New York Cosmos' Raul Gonzalez Blanco, left, and Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele, pose for graphs during a question-and-answer session at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention, in Philadelphia, US, on Jan 15, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

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 organized by Pele for the foundation he created in 2018 to help underprivileged children.

The Brazilian, the only soccer player to win three World Cup titles, said all funds raised will help Brazil's fight against and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far 575,000 people have died in Brazil 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 CFO of Beverly Hills-based Julien's Auctions, said.

"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 in London, but he has also called in favors from famous friends.

There are Brazil, Santos and New York Cosmos jerseys and photos autographed by the 80-year-old Pele, and others signed by former teammates such as Jairzinho.

Mario Zagallo, the coach of the 1970 Brazil World Cup-winning side, also contributed, as did Neymar, Roberto Baggio and Roger Milla

World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer signed a number of photographs from his playing days; there's a match ball from the 2015 Champions League final; and shirts and equipment used in basketball and American football.

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 soccer, Justin Timberlake, Maria Sharapova, Mark Wahlberg and the NBA all donated items.

"Anything from Pele people will want, but you mention Ronaldo, you mention Mbappe, those icons will be sought after," said Nolan.

"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."


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