HAVANA (Reuters) - Brazilian soccer great Pele will join his former club the New York Cosmos on a goodwill mission to Cuba that will include an exhibition match Tuesday between the Cosmos and the Cuban national team, Cuban officials said.
“It is now confirmed: The king of soccer, Pele, is coming to Havana ... for the upcoming friendly match on June 2,” the official newspaper Juventud Rebelde reported, citing Antonio Garces, vice president of the Cuban Football Association.
The Cosmos, now in the second division of U.S. professional soccer, have scheduled the first match of an American professional sports team in Cuba since the December rapprochement between Cuba and the United States.
The Cosmos became a sensation in the 1970s when they signed Pele and other international stars to play in the North American Soccer League. The league folded in the 1980s and was re-established in late 2009 as the second tier of U.S. club soccer, below Major League Soccer (MLS).
Today’s Cosmos get their star power from former Real Madrid striker and Spain captain, Raul Gonzalez, 37.
Pele, 74, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, won three World Cups with Brazil, and was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee.
Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Bernadette Baum