Pele Appeals For Sympathy

Date Published: 
Jamaica Gleaner

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Septembers, (Reuters):

KING PELE, world-famous star of the Brazilian soccer team Santos, today appealed for sympathy for those involved in rioting prior to the match in Port-of-Spain yesterday against a Trinidad and Tobago national team.

"Don't be hard on the people", he said at Piarco Airport before the Santos team left for home this morning. "This sort of thing happens everywhere. It's universal."

One man died and more than 20 men, women and children in the 40,000 crowd were treated
in hospital for injuries where spectators began throwing bottles and the police answered with tear gas.

Late arrival

Apart from being hit by bottles many people fell and were trampled by the surging crowd which had waited for hours in the seering sun and became restless when the game did not start on time.

The delayed start was due to the late arrival of the Brazilian team at the Queen's Park Oval where the match was played.

Pele said their lateness was due in the first place to the fact that the plane which brought them from Brazil had left late because of farewell parties.

When they arrived in Port-of-Spain, Pele said they discovered some of their gear was missing and when finally they were supplied with substitute gear he found that his was ill-fitting.

He said that due to their late arrival at the Oval they did not see the bottle throwing which had occurred earlier.

The match, which was stopped in the 58th minute, was won by Santos 1-0 from a goal scored by Pele.

The Minister for National Security, Mr. Basil Pitt, today called in the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Eustace Bernard, for talks and it is understood that a full report will later be made to the Prime Minister, Dr. Eric Williams.

Mr. Bernard himself was a victim of the rioting being struck on the face by a bottle when directing his men in their efforts to control the crowd. He was not seriously injured.

Mr. George T. W. Carr, a former commissioner of police, was appointed yesterday by the Minister to probe the matter.

Competent sources today said the investigation ordered by Mr. Pitt is "more of a department
nature" and did not fall under the ambit of the Commission of Inquiry Ordinance.

In other words, the sources explained, Mr. Carr's appointment to investigate the matter did not necessarily mean that the Cabinet was not thinking of appointing a Commission of Enquiry.

Mr. Carr was today reportedly doing a lot of spade work for the purpose of getting to the crux of his assignment.

No special place has been arranged for him to interview or question witnesses, and it was likely, reporters were told today, that Mr. Carr would visit witnesses at their posts or places of employment.

Police said today that apart from those treated in hospital scores of people had suffered minor injuries but had not sought hospital attention.