DURBAN, Nov 25 (Reuters) Pele will be one of more than 120 former players who will be presented with a World Cup winning medal after missing out on playing in the final.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter told a news conference today that world soccer's governing body would award medals to those players who were part of a winning squad but did not play in the decisive match of tournaments between 1930 and 1974.
Brazilian great Pele, who missed the 1962 final against Czechoslovakia because he was injured, will then officially become the only one to hold three World Cup winning medals. He also played in Brazil's winning sides of 1958 and 1970.
According to FIFA regulations in place until 1974 only players who appeared in the final were eligible for a medal, but the regulations were changed in 1978.
For the first time that year World Cup winners Argentina were awarded a total of 25 gold medals for the winning squad, with the Netherlands receiving 25 silver gilt medals.
Blatter conceded that although many of the older players have either long since disappeared from football or died, their families would be awarded the medal on their behalf.
He said he hoped the task of tracking down all the players or their families would be completed within the next 12 months.
''It is justice that the players should get medals now,'' he said.
''We are going back into the archives to find all the players, and where they have died, we will try and find their families.
''We might not be able to reproduce the exact medals, but they will be awarded medals for being part of the squad that won the World Cup,'' Blatter said.
In all 122 players were members of squads between 1930 and 1974 but did not play in the final and include some of the games greats including Jimmy Greaves of England (1966) and Guenther Netzer of West Germany (1974).
Blatter added: ''We are following the Olympic model as many other Olympic sports award medals to those in the squad and not those who were just on the field of play at the end.
''It is now right that their efforts should be recognised.'' Reuters PDS GC1920