Football: Around the World - Pele makes an impact as he tries to drag Brazilian club football into the modern world

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The conflict between 's most famous footballer, Pele, and his compatriot Joao Havelange, the president of world football's governing body, Fifa, continues unabated.

A bill drawn up by Pele, who is 's sports minister, to modernise the country's domestic football is safely on its way through parliament.

Pele's bill, which has angered Havelange, would oblige clubs to become privately run companies within two years, force them to start paying tax and allow them to organise their own leagues independent of the current state and national federations. Professional players will become free agents at the age of 20, freeing them from ties to their clubs.

Under the current system, clubs are affiliated to 's state federations and must take part in competitions organised by them and the CBF, the national confederation. They are also exempt from paying tax.

The country's domestic football is in a shambolic state. The competitions organised by the CBF and the state federations are often chaotic, crowds are usually pitifully small and most clubs have to sell their top players abroad.

Havelange warned earlier this year that could be suspended from Fifa if the bill ever becomes law. He said that the bill contravenes Fifa statutes, which ban government interference in national federations. There has been speculation, though, that his opposition to the bill is based more on his animosity towards Pele than on legal opinion.

saudi arabia

Like Iran, Nigeria and Mexico, it seems that another country bound for the World Cup finals are about to ditch the coach who guided them to France.

Saudi Arabia's fortunes in the Confederations Cup, the eight-team international tournament that started yesterday which they host, are the responsibility of Otto Pfister, the German coach who oversaw their successful World Cup qualifying campaign. However, he will then be replaced by Carlos Alberto Parreira, according to reports from Riyadh.

Parreira, who took to their record fourth World Cup victory in 1994, is due to sign a one-year contract to take charge of Saudi Arabia on 1 January. He is currently the coach of the New York-New Jersey MetroStars, and his move to the Middle East depends on an agreement between the Major League Soccer club and the Saudis.

"If the Saudi Football Federation can't satisfy us, we're not just going to make a goodwill gesture," the MetroStars' general manager, Charlie Stillitano, said.

Parreira is no stranger to the Gulf. He led Kuwait to the World Cup finals in Spain in 1982 and the United Arab Emirates to Italy in 1990.


It has been reported in Lagos that Nigeria's Football Association has chosen its new coach from a short-list of three: the former national team coach Jo Bonfrere, Bora Milutinovic (just sacked by Mexico) and Terry Venables. The lucky man cannot be named, though - until Nigeria's military government approves the choice of the football authorities.