Could you please start by explaining what #Pelegacy is, what inspired it and what you do?
#Pelegacy is a grassroots movement, created to honour the 80th birthday of football superstar Pelé and, at the same time, to raise funds to fight COVID-19 in Brazil. This project was initiated to celebrate Pelé, his incredible career and his many contributions to the game. After conversations with various stakeholders, including the Pele Foundation, we decided that we should do something to raise funds for Brazil’s fight against the virus. In a very difficult year worldwide, we could join the idea of celebrating Pelé’s legacy, with the fight against COVID.
So we thought to ask world stars as well as all fans worldwide to virtually “exchange” and dedicate a shirt to Pelé, in a gesture of praise and solidarity. Praise because it shows what Pelé means to so many people, the respect that he has, and solidarity because the dedicated shirts from global stars will be auctioned and the funds will go towards the battle against COVID in Brazil, a country that is suffering a lot.
What were the initial steps to getting #Pelegacy off the ground, and what were some of the challenges you faced at first?
Our first step was to create a team capable of working globally, because a movement to honour Pelé would only make sense if it had a global dimension. So, we joined forces not only with the Pelé Foundation, as I said, but with top professionals around the world that could reach the clubs and stars that we wanted to join the movement, produce the visual content and develop the media and PR strategy. Apart from this, we can’t forget that we live in an unique year, with lots of restrictions for travelling and meeting people, and, when it comes to a global movement like ours, this is obviously another challenge. But I think that, with creativity, passion, teamwork and cooperation we could face these challenges properly.
Kylian Mbappé, Robinho and Usain Bolt, among others, have all participated in the #Pelegacy campaign by uploading video messages in support of Pelé on Instagram, using the #Pelegacy hashtag. How valuable was the exposure from these popular and influential athletes to your project?
It was really, really important. Sports stars have a strong voice, especially among the younger generation. We wanted to use that voice to honour Pelé, to show his greatness. Pelé is now 80 years old and all those global stars were not born when he was winning World Cups and playing the game in a marvellous way, but, despite that, they see Pelé as a legend of the game. This is legacy, this is what happens when you really are a legend that crosses generations. And, apart from that, it had also a crucial value in terms of solidarity, because it’s the name and the importance of those stars that will allow to raise money through auctions to fight COVID-19 in Brazil.
As the project nears its end, to what extent would you say it that Pelegacy has been a success, and what would you say is the legacy that you will leave through this endeavour? (Please include and facts & figures you might have – number of shirts swapped; money raised through auctions etc)
First of all, we believe that we have been a success in terms of both honoring Pelé and accomplishing a mission of social responsibility. We have seen lots of global stars, giant football clubs and several people praising Pelé, showing what he means for so many people around the globe. And, moreover, we have shown that football can be a force for good, that the sports star may unite everyone together to create a better society.
We are proud to say that several World Cup Winners (Marco Materazzi, Dunga, Mbappé, Zagallo, Zambrotta…), Olympic and European Champions (Usain Bolt, Gio dos Santos, Nani, Danilo…), Champions League Winners (Marco Materazzi, Nani, Dejan Stankovic, Demetrio Albertini, Rafa Márquez…) and major clubs (Corinthians, Dinamo Moscow, Fluminense, Club América, Cruz Azul…) have joined our grassroots movement.
We’ve had 150 jerseys and approximately 200 items exchanged by stars with Pelé. Plus, we will try to beat the world record for the largest virtual shirt exchange ever seen.
In the wake of COVID-19, how important is it to use a platform such as football as a means to benefit the wider global community in such a tough time, and do you think this project will inspire similar organisations and campaigns?
Sport, and football in particular, can be a huge force for change and for good. Footballers are global stars, with an amazing capacity to influence people. If that influence is used properly, football can be an amazing driving force for changes that may positively affect millions of people.
This is a unique year where I think we have all become more sensitive to social responsibility causes. Players and others have been very kind and supportive overall. Like Nelson Mandela said, ‘Sport has the power to change the world.’ Sport embodies a lot of civic values, and it’s phenomenally important to motivate people around the world, especially the younger generations. It also has an incredible social value for consolidation, entertainment and local communities, especially in this time where many of us are separated from our loved ones.
You can see what Marcus Rashford is doing, for example. His influence and desire to help children has been outstanding. He’s a true role model. I believe that all the solidarity movements created within sport can inspire others to take similar actions.