The Brazilian football legend made a public appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to stop Ukraine’s “evil” and “unjust” attacks, just minutes before the Ukrainian national team’s World Cup qualifier.
“I want to use today’s game as an opportunity to make a request: stop this attack. There is no argument that can justify the violence,” Pel said in a statement posted on Instagram.
“This conflict is vicious, irrational and brings nothing but pain, fear, terror and suffering.”
Pel and Putin last met during the Confederations Cup in Moscow in 2017, a championship held before the World Cup. Russian leader Pel has been described as one of his favorite players.
“When we met in the past and exchanged smiles with long handshakes, I never thought we would be as divided as we are today,” wrote Pel, Brazil’s first sports minister in the 1990s.
Ukraine beat Scotland 3-1 on Wednesday, one match away from the World Cup qualifiers.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “thanked the party for the two hours of happiness, for what we have become accustomed to.”
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