COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil — Pele is to appear at Friday’s draw for the 2014 World Cup, but his role is being kept secret.
It hadn’t been clear whether Pele would be participating. On Monday, however, organizers confirmed the soccer great will be part of the broadcast to about 250 million viewers in more than 190 countries.
“He will be the ‘wow’ moment of the show,” said Luiz Gleiser, the event’s artistic manager.
Head of FIFA Films David Ausseil said Pele will “come to the stage” at some point. Beyond that it’s not certain what he will do.
“We will keep that as the surprise,” Ausseil said.
Pele is a World Cup ambassador for the Brazilian government, but he was not involved in the Confederations Cup draw a year ago and surprisingly didn’t appear at the opening match of the World Cup warmup tournament. He has made only a few appearances promoting the World Cup, the first in Brazil since 1950.
Pele will not be drawing the balls that determine the group placings, a task handed to past world champions Cafu of Brazil, Zinedine Zidane of France, Lothar Matthaeus of Germany, Fernando Hierro of Spain, Fabio Cannavaro of Italy, Alcides Ghiggia or Uruguay, Geoff Hurst of England and Mario Kempes of Argentina.
They will be assisting FIFA Secretary Jerome Valcke, who will be conducting the draw that reveals the first-round matchups of the World Cup, including where and when each of the 32 teams will be playing in the June 12-July 13 tournament.
Nearly 1,500 guests are expected to attend, along with about 2,000 journalists. Representatives of nearly all 32 nations will be in the resort city of Costa do Sauipe.
Brazilian artists such as Alcione, Margareth Menezes, Alexandre Pires, Vanessa da Mata and the percussion group Olodum will be part of the show.
Local actors Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert will be presenting the event, which FIFA says will focus on “five traits that make Brazil what it is: a cohesive society, the power of innovation, lush green nature, vibrant football and a land of happiness.”