DURBAN (September 6, 2001) RHC – FORMER Brazilian soccer star Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as “Pele,” has sent a message to the World Conference Against Racism, currently underway in Durban, South Africa. Pele strongly denounced the existence of racism in sports, noting, “The dream of a world free of racial conflicts continues to be a dream.” In his message addressed to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the renowned soccer player congratulated the United Nations for undertaking the important conference, which is discussing issues related to racism and racial discrimination.
Pele attached a copy of a letter he sent to the International Soccer Federation in Buenos Aires earlier this year, in which he called attention to racism against Black athletes. In the letter, he noted that the fact there are Blacks in sports does not take away from the enormous difficulties they encounter throughout their careers due to racism. The Brazilian soccer player said that Black athletes – even those who become rich and famous – are painfully aware that the majority of their people are subjected to poverty and discrimination as a result of racism. In Durban, delegates are still debating the wording of a final declaration to the World Conference Against Racism, which is slated to wind up tomorrow.