Did Pele really cause the Biafran war to stop

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Did Pele really cause the Biafran war to stop

Post by AreaDaddy »

Interesting and detailed article from Nairaland and it looks like the answer is NO he didn't.

https://www.nairaland.com/7506179/pele- ... #119631083
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, commonly called Pelé, is a 79-year-old Brazilian retired professional footballer who is widely considered as one of the greatest footballers of all time.

Well, the story goes that in 1969 the legendary Brazilian forward Pelé and his football club, Santos, paused the Nigerian civil war for 48 hours as both Nigeria and Biafra put aside their differences for a couple of days just for Santos to play a football game in the country. But did this event really happen? And did the world’s greatest football player come to Nigeria in the first place?

In this article, I am going to take you back in time through the archives in search of the real story of Pelé coming to Nigeria.

The football match in Lagos

In January 1969, Brazilian football side, Santos had embarked on a money-making football tour in Africa. The itinerary had included exhibition matches in The Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Algeria and Ghana.

Pelé, who was the world’s best football player at the time, was the star attraction on the Santos tour. The forward had already won two world cups with his national team, and the following year, he would go on to lead Brazil to their most celebrated victory in Mexico. He got crowds into the stadium and empowered Santos to charge high appearance fees for their exhibition matches. The fans wanted to see Pelé play against their teams and so were willing to pay just to enjoy that privilege.

It was on a sunday morning of January 26, 1969 that Santos arrived at the International Airport. They were scheduled to play their exhibition match against the Green Eagles of Nigeria that afternoon at the Lagos City Stadium. The 28-year-old Pelé and his Santos team mates were received by the Nigerian football officials and journalists who had been waiting eagerly to welcome the football star to the country. Santos arrived in Lagos on the back of a 3-2 defeat to The Leopards of Congo in Kinshasa.

The Lagos exhibition match was arranged by the the Nigeria Football Association who had paid Santos about £11,000 (Nigerian pound sterling, which was equal to the British pound sterling until it was replaced by the Nigerian Naira in 1973) to play against the Green Eagles of Nigeria.

There was an editorial in the Nigerian Daily Times debating whether the sum of money was a justified expense during an ongoing civil war in the country.

Chief A.B. Osula, who was the vice-Chairman of the Nigeria Football Association, argued however that the cost to bring Santos to play in Lagos was a bargain. He told a press conference that if one should consider the international worth of the club, the money that would be paid to Santos would be comparatively small. He explained that the exhibition match was arranged for the benefit of the Nigerian football fans and the national team, and that it also provided Nigerians the opportunity to watch world-class players like Pelé. He further said that the match would also spur Nigerian footballers to emulate the high standards that would be displayed by the Santos players.

The football match between Santos and the Green Eagles of Nigeria ended in a 2-2 draw. Muyiwa Oshode and Baba Alli had scored the Green Eagles’ two goals while Pelé got the two goals for Santos. The Lagos spectators rose up to applaud both Pelé’s goals.

Nigerian officials took control of the football match and the Santos’ medical officer, Dr. Rodriguez, complimented the quality of the officiating team as the best Santos had experienced so far on their tour of Africa. He said that they shall commend the referee and his linesmen to FIFA, the world football governing body.

After the game, the next day Santos left for Mozambique to play an exhibition match.

The Mid-west (Benin) match

Chairman of the Midwest Sports Council, Isaac Okonjo had called a press conference in Benin on Thursday, January 16, 1969 announcing the formation of the Santos-Midwest Match Committee charged with the task of raising funds for the Santos game in Benin.

The previous week, Okonjo had travelled to Lagos to see the chairman of the Nigeria Football Association, Mr.Geoffery Amachree, about bringing Santos to Benin for an exhibition match. Okonjo told the chairman that his council could only afford to pay Santos £6000 instead of the £11000 which was to be paid to Santos for the Lagos match. Amachree agreed to contact Santos on behalf of the Midwest Sports Council to enquire if the club would be interested.

Santos were in Congo at the time and the reasons for the Midwest Sports Council arranging the match was to entertain the football-loving public of the Mid-western region who would get the opportunity to see the best footballer in the world, and also provide the Midwest football players the opportunity to compete against elite footballers.

On Saturday, January 25 1969, Okonjo announced at a press conference in Benin that the Santos match planned for January 27 (the day Santos left for Mozambique) was cancelled. Santos had only planned to play one match in Nigeria – Lagos, and it was not possible to accommodate another Nigerian match in their busy tour schedule. Two days later, he would call another press conference to announce that Santos had changed its decision and agreed to play the Midwest team on February 5, 1969. He told reporters that match tickets would be on sale later that day, and could be purchased in front of all post offices and major shops throughout the state.

On Saturday, February 1 2020, Santos sent a cable to the Midwest Sports Council from Mozambique to request that the Benin match be changed from Wednesday, February 5 to Tuesday, February 4, 1969. On the morning of February 4, Pelé and his Santos side flew to Benin airport from Lagos. Upon their arrival, the officials and players of Santos paid a courtesy visit to the Military Governor of the Midwest, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ogbemudia, as well as the Oba of Benin.

The match was scheduled for a 3:30pm kick-off, but the Ogbe stadium in Benin was opened from 10:00am. By 2:00pm, the 10,000 capacity stadium was full and there were lots of people stuck outside and unable to get in.

Football fans had entered from neighbouring states; even from as far as Lagos. These fans were the ones who had missed the Santos match against the Green Eagles of Nigeria and did not want to miss out for the second time.

A mid-west Sports Council official presented the Santos players with gifts of wooden-carved walking sticks just before the kick-off.

Santos won the football match 2-1 against a very determined but limited Midwest side. Brazilian star, Pelé failed to score, to the disappointment of the Benin spectators. Santo's goals were scored by Edu and Negreiros while Okere scored a consolation goal for the Midwest team with all three goals coming in the first half. As soon as the match ended, Santos returned to Lagos, en route to Accra, Ghana for the next exhibition match.

In his post-match analysis, a Nigerian Observer journalist, reported that for the first time since he began his sports reporting career, he saw a master footballer at work, one who played the ball with grace and on several occasions, made the defenders look like new-comers to big-time soccer.

The Ceasefire legend, where did it come from?

On the internet, there are several versions of the ceasefire story. One version claims that it took place in 1967, while another states that the match was in 1969. There are reports that the Santos game was played in Lagos, while other accounts claim that it was played in Benin. However, all I can say is that the ceasefire story is a myth.

Despite finding reports of this story on websites like Time, CNN, The Guardian, Wikipedia, Goal, The Telegraph, Globoesporte, etc. There is however no reported Nigerian evidence of this story. Nigerian Daily Times (Lagos) and Nigerian Observer (Benin), the two key Nigerian dailies were researched for this piece and there was no mention of a civil war ceasefire for a Santos match in their 1969 issues. However, both newspapers extensively covered Santos’ two matches in Nigeria, which makes them credible sources.

The reason why some versions of the ceasefire story say that Pelé came to Lagos in 1967 could be attributed to an error in Pelé’s 1977 autobiography "My Life and the Beautiful Game" where he stated that he visited Lagos with Santos in 1967, but he and his Santos entourage did not visit Lagos until 1969.

In the sixties, Pelé travelled a lot with Santos, so there is a tendency that he got the dates mixed up. It is also very interesting to note that in his 1977 book, Pelé never mentioned the supposed ceasefire story and yet, in his 2007 autobiography "Pelé: The Autobiography," he does recall the match taking place in 1969 at Lagos.

In some ceasefire stories, the Midwest Governor, Lt. Col. Samuel Ogbemudia, opened the Sapele Bridge to allow Biafrans to travel from Biafra into Benin to watch the football match. Actually, the toll bridge was opened on the day of the match so that fans would not have to spend extra and not for Biafrans to have access to the match.

It is however very unlikely that any Biafran would have have had the guts to travel from the south-east to any of the two football matches. The fear of execution or detention by Federal soldiers would have discouraged even the most ardent and passionate Biafran football fan.

Four days before the match in Benin, a Biafran aircraft bombed Obagie, a village eight miles from Benin, killing four farmers and injuring several others. This incident would have made any ceasefire agreement between the Government of Nigeria and Biafra very unlikely for the Santos match in Benin. The Midwest Governor also did not mention a ceasefire with Biafra in his account about the Santos match in Benin written in his ‘Eighteen Months of Stewardship’ report, which was published a month after the match.

A historian and Coordinator of Santos’ Memory and Statistics Centre, Guilherme Guarche, stated on the club’s official website in early 2015 that the original source of the 1969 ceasefire story was a 1990 article on Pelé in a Placar magazine by French-Brazilian journalist, Michel Laurence. In his 2007 book, Pelé said that he wasn't sure if the 48-hour ceasefire story was completely true, but he was sure that the Nigerians made sure the Biafrans would not invade Lagos while they were there. Pelé also recalled a heavy military presence on the streets coupled with protection by the army and police during their stay in Nigeria.

The football legend also said in his book that the business manager of Santos had assured the players that the Nigerian Civil war would be stopped for their exhibition match and would not be a problem for the authorities. In his 2011 interview with CNN, Pelé, however, raised no doubts about the ceasefire story. He even reinforced the ceasefire legend in the interview.

Pelé’s global status coupled with the location of the incident (an African country ravaged by civil war– Nigeria), made the ceasefire story a believable one. If there was any sports personality big enough to have stopped a civil war in an African country in the 60s, then it would be Pelé. But the only problem with Pelé’s version of the Nigerian civil war ceasefire story is that it is not true.
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Re: Did Pele really cause the Biafran war to stop

Post by ohsee »

AreaDaddy wrote: Mon Jan 02, 2023 9:34 pm Interesting and detailed article from Nairaland and it looks like the answer is NO he didn't.

https://www.nairaland.com/7506179/pele- ... #119631083
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, commonly called Pelé, is a 79-year-old Brazilian retired professional footballer who is widely considered as one of the greatest footballers of all time.

Well, the story goes that in 1969 the legendary Brazilian forward Pelé and his football club, Santos, paused the Nigerian civil war for 48 hours as both Nigeria and Biafra put aside their differences for a couple of days just for Santos to play a football game in the country. But did this event really happen? And did the world’s greatest football player come to Nigeria in the first place?

In this article, I am going to take you back in time through the archives in search of the real story of Pelé coming to Nigeria.

The football match in Lagos

In January 1969, Brazilian football side, Santos had embarked on a money-making football tour in Africa. The itinerary had included exhibition matches in The Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Algeria and Ghana.

Pelé, who was the world’s best football player at the time, was the star attraction on the Santos tour. The forward had already won two world cups with his national team, and the following year, he would go on to lead Brazil to their most celebrated victory in Mexico. He got crowds into the stadium and empowered Santos to charge high appearance fees for their exhibition matches. The fans wanted to see Pelé play against their teams and so were willing to pay just to enjoy that privilege.

It was on a sunday morning of January 26, 1969 that Santos arrived at the International Airport. They were scheduled to play their exhibition match against the Green Eagles of Nigeria that afternoon at the Lagos City Stadium. The 28-year-old Pelé and his Santos team mates were received by the Nigerian football officials and journalists who had been waiting eagerly to welcome the football star to the country. Santos arrived in Lagos on the back of a 3-2 defeat to The Leopards of Congo in Kinshasa.

The Lagos exhibition match was arranged by the the Nigeria Football Association who had paid Santos about £11,000 (Nigerian pound sterling, which was equal to the British pound sterling until it was replaced by the Nigerian Naira in 1973) to play against the Green Eagles of Nigeria.

There was an editorial in the Nigerian Daily Times debating whether the sum of money was a justified expense during an ongoing civil war in the country.

Chief A.B. Osula, who was the vice-Chairman of the Nigeria Football Association, argued however that the cost to bring Santos to play in Lagos was a bargain. He told a press conference that if one should consider the international worth of the club, the money that would be paid to Santos would be comparatively small. He explained that the exhibition match was arranged for the benefit of the Nigerian football fans and the national team, and that it also provided Nigerians the opportunity to watch world-class players like Pelé. He further said that the match would also spur Nigerian footballers to emulate the high standards that would be displayed by the Santos players.

The football match between Santos and the Green Eagles of Nigeria ended in a 2-2 draw. Muyiwa Oshode and Baba Alli had scored the Green Eagles’ two goals while Pelé got the two goals for Santos. The Lagos spectators rose up to applaud both Pelé’s goals.

Nigerian officials took control of the football match and the Santos’ medical officer, Dr. Rodriguez, complimented the quality of the officiating team as the best Santos had experienced so far on their tour of Africa. He said that they shall commend the referee and his linesmen to FIFA, the world football governing body.

After the game, the next day Santos left for Mozambique to play an exhibition match.

The Mid-west (Benin) match

Chairman of the Midwest Sports Council, Isaac Okonjo had called a press conference in Benin on Thursday, January 16, 1969 announcing the formation of the Santos-Midwest Match Committee charged with the task of raising funds for the Santos game in Benin.

The previous week, Okonjo had travelled to Lagos to see the chairman of the Nigeria Football Association, Mr.Geoffery Amachree, about bringing Santos to Benin for an exhibition match. Okonjo told the chairman that his council could only afford to pay Santos £6000 instead of the £11000 which was to be paid to Santos for the Lagos match. Amachree agreed to contact Santos on behalf of the Midwest Sports Council to enquire if the club would be interested.

Santos were in Congo at the time and the reasons for the Midwest Sports Council arranging the match was to entertain the football-loving public of the Mid-western region who would get the opportunity to see the best footballer in the world, and also provide the Midwest football players the opportunity to compete against elite footballers.

On Saturday, January 25 1969, Okonjo announced at a press conference in Benin that the Santos match planned for January 27 (the day Santos left for Mozambique) was cancelled. Santos had only planned to play one match in Nigeria – Lagos, and it was not possible to accommodate another Nigerian match in their busy tour schedule. Two days later, he would call another press conference to announce that Santos had changed its decision and agreed to play the Midwest team on February 5, 1969. He told reporters that match tickets would be on sale later that day, and could be purchased in front of all post offices and major shops throughout the state.

On Saturday, February 1 2020, Santos sent a cable to the Midwest Sports Council from Mozambique to request that the Benin match be changed from Wednesday, February 5 to Tuesday, February 4, 1969. On the morning of February 4, Pelé and his Santos side flew to Benin airport from Lagos. Upon their arrival, the officials and players of Santos paid a courtesy visit to the Military Governor of the Midwest, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ogbemudia, as well as the Oba of Benin.

The match was scheduled for a 3:30pm kick-off, but the Ogbe stadium in Benin was opened from 10:00am. By 2:00pm, the 10,000 capacity stadium was full and there were lots of people stuck outside and unable to get in.

Football fans had entered from neighbouring states; even from as far as Lagos. These fans were the ones who had missed the Santos match against the Green Eagles of Nigeria and did not want to miss out for the second time.

A mid-west Sports Council official presented the Santos players with gifts of wooden-carved walking sticks just before the kick-off.

Santos won the football match 2-1 against a very determined but limited Midwest side. Brazilian star, Pelé failed to score, to the disappointment of the Benin spectators. Santo's goals were scored by Edu and Negreiros while Okere scored a consolation goal for the Midwest team with all three goals coming in the first half. As soon as the match ended, Santos returned to Lagos, en route to Accra, Ghana for the next exhibition match.

In his post-match analysis, a Nigerian Observer journalist, reported that for the first time since he began his sports reporting career, he saw a master footballer at work, one who played the ball with grace and on several occasions, made the defenders look like new-comers to big-time soccer.

The Ceasefire legend, where did it come from?

On the internet, there are several versions of the ceasefire story. One version claims that it took place in 1967, while another states that the match was in 1969. There are reports that the Santos game was played in Lagos, while other accounts claim that it was played in Benin. However, all I can say is that the ceasefire story is a myth.

Despite finding reports of this story on websites like Time, CNN, The Guardian, Wikipedia, Goal, The Telegraph, Globoesporte, etc. There is however no reported Nigerian evidence of this story. Nigerian Daily Times (Lagos) and Nigerian Observer (Benin), the two key Nigerian dailies were researched for this piece and there was no mention of a civil war ceasefire for a Santos match in their 1969 issues. However, both newspapers extensively covered Santos’ two matches in Nigeria, which makes them credible sources.

The reason why some versions of the ceasefire story say that Pelé came to Lagos in 1967 could be attributed to an error in Pelé’s 1977 autobiography "My Life and the Beautiful Game" where he stated that he visited Lagos with Santos in 1967, but he and his Santos entourage did not visit Lagos until 1969.

In the sixties, Pelé travelled a lot with Santos, so there is a tendency that he got the dates mixed up. It is also very interesting to note that in his 1977 book, Pelé never mentioned the supposed ceasefire story and yet, in his 2007 autobiography "Pelé: The Autobiography," he does recall the match taking place in 1969 at Lagos.

In some ceasefire stories, the Midwest Governor, Lt. Col. Samuel Ogbemudia, opened the Sapele Bridge to allow Biafrans to travel from Biafra into Benin to watch the football match. Actually, the toll bridge was opened on the day of the match so that fans would not have to spend extra and not for Biafrans to have access to the match.

It is however very unlikely that any Biafran would have have had the guts to travel from the south-east to any of the two football matches. The fear of execution or detention by Federal soldiers would have discouraged even the most ardent and passionate Biafran football fan.

Four days before the match in Benin, a Biafran aircraft bombed Obagie, a village eight miles from Benin, killing four farmers and injuring several others. This incident would have made any ceasefire agreement between the Government of Nigeria and Biafra very unlikely for the Santos match in Benin. The Midwest Governor also did not mention a ceasefire with Biafra in his account about the Santos match in Benin written in his ‘Eighteen Months of Stewardship’ report, which was published a month after the match.

A historian and Coordinator of Santos’ Memory and Statistics Centre, Guilherme Guarche, stated on the club’s official website in early 2015 that the original source of the 1969 ceasefire story was a 1990 article on Pelé in a Placar magazine by French-Brazilian journalist, Michel Laurence. In his 2007 book, Pelé said that he wasn't sure if the 48-hour ceasefire story was completely true, but he was sure that the Nigerians made sure the Biafrans would not invade Lagos while they were there. Pelé also recalled a heavy military presence on the streets coupled with protection by the army and police during their stay in Nigeria.

The football legend also said in his book that the business manager of Santos had assured the players that the Nigerian Civil war would be stopped for their exhibition match and would not be a problem for the authorities. In his 2011 interview with CNN, Pelé, however, raised no doubts about the ceasefire story. He even reinforced the ceasefire legend in the interview.

Pelé’s global status coupled with the location of the incident (an African country ravaged by civil war– Nigeria), made the ceasefire story a believable one. If there was any sports personality big enough to have stopped a civil war in an African country in the 60s, then it would be Pelé. But the only problem with Pelé’s version of the Nigerian civil war ceasefire story is that it is not true.
Excellent write-up by EdoWriter. No, there was no cease fire. It is a 100% myth.

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