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regular-article-logo Thursday, 29 February 2024

Brazil’s Santos retire Pele's jersey until club is promoted

Marcelo Teixeira, elected on Saturday as Santos’ president, said he made the decision as a tribute to the club’s biggest star, who died on December 29 at 81 due to colon cancer

AP/PTI Sao Paulo Published 11.12.23, 07:41 AM
The iconic No. 10 shirt of Santos FC.

The iconic No. 10 shirt of Santos FC. Twitter

No player of Brazil’s Santos team will wear the No. 10 jersey made globally famous by the late Pele as long as the club plays in the country’s second division, the new club president said.

Marcelo Teixeira, elected on Saturday as Santos’ president, said he made the decision as a tribute to the club’s biggest star, who died on December 29 at 81 due to colon cancer.

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“Until Santos are back in Serie A, which are their standard, we will not play with the No. 10 shirt,” said Teixeira, who was Santos’ president on two previous occasions.

“This year’s Brazilian league was named after King Pele. We will continue in this mission. We will be back in the top division, but until then, we won’t wear our most glorious shirt.”

Every match of this year’s Brazilian league celebrated Pele in the 10th minute of play, in a reference to the number on the shirt that he wore for Santos and Brazil.

Teixeira, a businessman, beat four rivals and ended with 53 per cent of the vote to return to the presidency at Santos on January 1. Years ago, he suggested the club should retire the “10”, but the three-time World Cup winner himself said he didn’t want that to happen.

“This should have been a party of democracy, but this moment is not adequate for celebrations,” Teixeira told Santos club members after the vote. “We need to be united from now on so we can have the opportunity to put Santos back at its level.”

Santos president Andres Rueda, who did not vote due to fears of angry supporters, published an apology video on social media on Friday.

Santos have had a troubled week since their 2-1 home loss to Fortaleza on Wednesday, which led to their first relegation. Fans burned cars and buses that night, broke into the Vila Belmiro Stadium the next day and earlier on Saturday caused brawls at the club as the vote for president went on.

Santos are now in debt, politically divided, searching for new heroes and gloomy about their future with less money in the second division as Brazil’s football becomes increasingly more competitive and expensive.

When Pele started playing at Santos, the “10” shirt was just one among many, with no special meaning. After he started shining for the club and for Brazil’s national team, top players all over the world started picking that number as their own, including Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.

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