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Apr 3, 2014

Pele: 'The beautiful game' in danger

Pele is mourning the death of "the beautiful game," a phrase many say was coined by the 73-year-old Brazilian legend.

Pele says managers who play not to lose are damaging the sport's elegance.

Pele: Neymar tends to dive

More and more since his retirement, teams are emphasising defence over a flowing attack, Pele said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"Italy always played defence -- in my time, now, always," he said. "But unfortunately today, I think because of the millions, because of the new technology, because of the money from the sponsors, the people, they don't care the way they win."

He says the message from managers is not win, but rather "don't lose", and that mentality has led to a less entertaining game.

"They don't care about the beautiful game. They don't care about the elegance of football. In my time, we used to think and give a little show."

With his home nation preparing to host the World Cup, Pele doesn't expect Brazil to have an easy path to a record sixth World Cup title.

"Germany has a very good team, young team, and then Spain. Spain is a team who plays together eight years, 10 years -- same team. Very nice organized team," he said on Wednesday. "This will be difficult. But we must respect Italy. We must respect Uruguay, because Uruguay is there. Argentina is there."

Pele told the Los Angeles Times that he sees the United States as next great soccer power, citing America's superior youth programs.

"People should be careful," Pele said. "Because I think here in the United States today, they play more soccer than they play in Brazil. It's important the American kids know that. We don't have the same support they have in college, university.

"Soccer is becoming very, very big in the United States. The base, with the kids, is more organized than Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay. No doubt."

Pele also laughed off a tweet from a CNN account that prematurely reported his death last week.

"I was not surprised because it was not the first time," he said. "The last time was three years ago. ... One elephant died, and the nickname of the elephant was Pele. People said Pele died. My family started to call me. Was the same last week."

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