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Pele says FIFA scandal won't destroy beautiful game

Oct 15, 2015; 4:45 PM 571

Pele described the corruption crisis engulfing FIFA as "a shame" Thursday but stopped short of backing a new president for the scandal-hit organisation.

The Brazilian legend said football was still the "beautiful game" and could not be destroyed by those running its governing body.

"It's a shame what is happening now (with FIFA) but this is not football, this is some people who work within football," he told reporters in the city of Gurgaon outside New Delhi.

The World Cup great is in India to promote grassroots football by attending the final of the Subroto Cup inter-school competition on Friday night.

In June, Pele said he hoped "honest people" would take over at FIFA and undertake the task of cleaning up world football.

When asked who should be FIFA president Thursday, he singled out UEFA chief Michel Platini who is appealing a 90-day ban by FIFA as part of its corruption probe.

Pele also said fellow Brazilian great Zico, who is currently managing FC Goa in the glitzy Indian Super League, was courageous for wanting to throw his hat into the ring.

"I told him you are very strong, you have courage because I wouldn't want to be FIFA president," he said.

But the 74-year-old declined to back anyone for the top job, saying only that "I want nice people, I want somebody who respects the people".

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has appealed against a 90-day ban from all football-related activities over a Swiss criminal inquiry.

The bans on Blatter and Platini were announced by FIFA this month as its ethics watchdog ramps up its investigation into fraud and corruption at the heart of the organisation.

Their dramatic suspensions were the latest blow to an organisation reeling from months of scandal.