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Pele not taking part in Cup draw, will be in audience

Soccer great Pele waves to the crowd before the international friendly soccer match between Brazil and Portugal in Foxborough, Massachusetts
Soccer great Pele waves to the crowd before the international friendly soccer match between Brazil and Portugal in Foxborough, Massachusetts

(Reuters) - Pele will not be taking part in Friday's World Cup draw although he will be in the audience, he said on Wednesday, adding that he was worried about landing Brazil in a difficult group.

"President Dilma (Rousseff) suggested that I represent Brazil when it came to pulling the balls out of the pots, which I've done several times before," Brazilian media quoted the former great Brazil striker as saying at an event in Sao Paulo.

"I preferred to turn down the offer because I wouldn't feel comfortable in picking out balls which are not favorable to Brazil."

Pele has earned a reputation in Brazil as a "pe-frio", literally "cold foot", although he gave a sarcastic response to a reporter who asked him about it.

"I won five world titles, two with Santos and three with the national team and I scored more than one thousand goals, so you're right, I'm a cold foot," he said.

"I will be there, God willing," Pele added. "I will give interviews, accompany the delegations from abroad and do what is necessary, representing President Dilma."

Draw organizers said on Monday that Pele would make an appearance in some shape or form, adding that he would provide the "wow factor."

(Reporting by Brian Homewood)

(Additional reporting by Mike Collett in Costa da Suipe, writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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