Pelé and Xuxa’s complicated relationship, from her being a minor, to infidelities, separations, and controversy

He already had three children when he met the model and hostess, who was still a minor. O Rei and the future "Queen of the shorties" multiplied on the covers of newspapers, magazines and TV shows. The relationship lasted five years, but it was almost always stormy.

In the 1980s, when Pelé had just retired from soccer with the New York Cosmos and Xuxa was an emerging figure in the Brazilian show business world, the two were the protagonists of a romance that gave rise to numerous controversies in the media and ended abruptly after five years. However, each of them put forward different reasons for the ending.

When they met, Xuxa was only 17 years old and, according to what she told in interviews and her autobiographical book, Pelé was the first love of her life, while the great three-time world champion soccer player was about to turn 40 had separated from his first marriage and already had three children.

This situation generated controversy in Brazilian society with a double standard because, on the one hand, many did not accept the enormous age distance between them; on the other, the parents of the popular presenter (she was not yet a popular presenter but a rising model) endorsed the relationship, and there were third parties who questioned the young woman suspecting that she was the one who wanted to obtain social benefits and recognition by being in a couple with one of the biggest idols of the country.

Eventually, Xuxa told how she met Pelé in 1980: “It was during a rehearsal for a magazine cover. There were four models, Luiza, Marcia Brito, and me, and it was supposed to be a black woman, but he didn’t want to. They put Miss Brazil, who came from Brasilia, on the cover. In the photo, I was facing him”. She then said that it didn’t end there and that, after the rehearsal, she was approached by “O Rei.” “He invited me to dinner, and I told him I couldn’t because I lived far away and was a minor. Then he called my house, and my father hung up thinking it was a joke, but he accepted“.

In 1980, Xuxa was on the cover of more than eighty graphic media (among them, “Playboy” magazine), a little because of her rising career, but a lot because of the notoriety that came from being in a couple with Pelé. However, her first cover was at 16 in “Carinho” magazine. Her leap to definitive popularity was in 1982 with her participation in the movie “Love, strange love” directed by Walter Hugo Khouri, which contained sex scenes with a 12-year-old boy.

Pelé world champion in Mexico 1970 at the Azteca Stadium
Pelé world champion in Mexico in 1970 at the Azteca Stadium

Later, with the success of her career with the children’s audience, she managed to have the film withdrawn from the market, and the same thing happened when Playboy magazine tried to republish the original photos. Those who knew closely the behind-the-scenes of the couple tell that it was one of the few times that it was known that the model and then TV presenter turned to Pelé for help and, according to an investigation by “Veja” magazine, it was the star who managed to avoid it through a negotiation that included an exclusive interview with him. Later, in 2011, Xuxa won a lawsuit against Google to prevent her name from being linked to pedophilia. She eventually lost the battle with the tech giant in 2018.

In February 2020, the Brazilian presenter, singer, actress, and model even commented on Matheus Mazzafera’s YouTube channel that with Pelé, “I had my first relationship that lasted six years, and I have been betrayed continuously. When I looked at him, he had a lipstick that was not mine in his mouth. That was normal for him. He once told me, ‘It’s women who want to be with Pelé.’ When he separated when I turned 23, my life changed significantly.”

At that time, when I met him, I thought he was unique,” she told TV Récord’s “Programa da Sabrina,” and that he would be a love for life. “It was between my 17 and 23 years when I fell in love with him, and I can’t say that he was a person I didn’t love and wasn’t important“. But she acknowledged that “fame took away my freedom.” She told journalist Luis Erlanger “‘When I met Pelé, everyone with me said ‘wow, how are you in love with him?”.

When asked if she would like to meet him again, she maintained that “he has cheated on me too much, to the point that those women he betrayed me with were in the same place I was, and everyone knew it except me, of course. He wrote a book detailing the women he was with while he was with me, and he said something like I was ‘the colorful friendship,’ as if we had had an open relationship, and I swear I never knew.”

In her book “Memories,” Xuxa recalls aspects of her relationship with Pelé. “We were invited to every event, but I have mixed feelings now. For everyone, he was Pelé, but for me, he was Dico, who played buraco with my mom. I was very young, without experience, and I took what he told me as absolute truth. I naturalized his betrayals until a moment came when I couldn’t stand it. Our relationship had no future. For me, we were dating, and for him, it was a colorful friendship.”

Xuxa was one of the most recognized conductors in South America
Xuxa was one of the most recognized conductors in South America.

In those times when she began to distance herself from Pelé, Xuxa worked during the week as a model in New York, where he was based after having played for years with the Cosmos until his retirement in 1977. On weekends she recorded the television program Club del Niño on the now defunct “Red Manchete,” for which she had been called by director Mauricio Sherman when the modeling agency made her choose between the catwalks or television, and she preferred the children’s program, which consisted of jokes, cartoons, and music. She went from Monday to Saturday. That made her return to Brazil and distance herself even more from Pelé, although she flatly denied it and said that her hectic life had nothing to do with it and that the reason had been his constant infidelities.

Years later, she said that Pelé’s feet were “undoubtedly the ugliest” she had ever seen in her life and that she could never tolerate them, adding that the star’s sweating during intimacy was “extreme” and became “unbearable.” He replied that these were small details of no importance compared to what she learned, thanks to him, in intimacy.

Pelé’s version, in an interview given to the Colombian weekly “Nuevo Estadio,” was different. He stated that his relationship with Xuxa “was the first serious one I had after my separation from Rose. When I met her, she was 15 years old, a virgin, and had a boyfriend with whom she fought. Her father allowed me, and we went out together. I wouldn’t say I liked virgins, so I told her to work it out with her boyfriend. After that, we went out often. At that time, she was starting her TV activities and wanted to have children, but I had three, and I had just separated from my wife, so we didn’t see eye to eye. So, the relationship cooled down, although we remained very good friends“.

Pelé said he signed the divorce with his first wife without knowing what he was doing. “She made the decision when I was in Argentina watching the 1978 World Cup. When I returned home, a group of people were waiting for me at the airport in New York and asked me for autographs. Among these people was a bailiff who handed me the demand for separation. I didn’t notice and signed it. When I gave it back to him, he told me that this paper, the notice, I should keep it. I did not want to separate, not only for her but also for the sake of our children and all they were suffering, but I had no other choice.”

Pelé with Maradona on Diego's birthday
Pelé with Maradona on Diego’s birthday

In this interview, Pelé confessed that his first erotic experience was with a homosexual when he was 14 years old and played for Santos. “Let’s do justice, and it wasn’t just a thing of mine… It was with a homosexual that our whole team was in Baurú, but after that, I never engaged in this kind of relationship again.”

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, “Pelé,” born on October 23, 1940, in the town of Tres Corazoes, in Minas Gerais, was three times world champion with the Brazilian national team (in 1958, 1962, and 1970), and twice champion of the Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental with Santos (1962 and 1963), He has also been the highest authority on sport in his country, UN ambassador and decorated as “Citizen of the World,” included in the FIFA Fair Play Committee and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and managed to get FIFA to join forces with UNICEF so that the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan would be dedicated to children, with resounding success.

The Brazilian star, who often says that “I only missed reaching the moon,” retired from soccer on October 1, 1977, playing for the New York Cosmos and his first marriage was in 1966 to Rosemeri Choibi, with whom he spent 16 years and had three children, Kelly Cristina, Edinho and Jennifer.

In 1994, aged 53, he married for the second time psychologist and gospel singer Assiria Seixas (36), with whom he had 14 years of marriage and two children, twins Josua and Celeste, and in 2016, aged 75, he married for the third time with Brazilian businesswoman of Japanese origin Marcia Cibele Aoaki, then 41, and whom he met at a party in the eighties, but they began their relationship in 2010.

During their courtship, Pelé and Xuxa were the couple most sought after by the Brazilian media
During their courtship, Pelé and Xuxa were the most sought-after couple by the Brazilian media.

Pelé admitted having been unfaithful in his marriages, and besides Xuxa, he was also in a couple with beauty queens Deise Nunes de Souza and Flavia Cavalcanti. He is credited with two daughters out of wedlock and was judicially forced to acknowledge the paternity of one of them, Sandra Regina Machado, who died of cancer on October 17, 2006.

Pelé had to suffer a series of different problems in his last years, such as when his son, former goalkeeper Edinho (Edson Choibi Nascimento), was arrested in 2005 for drug trafficking and in May 2014 was sentenced to 33 years and four months in prison for laundering drug trafficking proceeds -later reduced to 12 years and ten months-, or for health problems (such as a hip operation that made him depressed and caused him to spend a long time without leaving his house and using a walker, and recently, when he had a tumor removed from his colon).

Xuxa was born in Santa Rosa, Rio Grande do Sul, on March 27, 1963. Considered “the queen of the short people” due to her enormous popularity on Brazilian TV (although she later reached international levels), she also had an affair with Formula One driver and fellow countryman Ayrton Senna, and with businessman Luciano Szafir, father of her only daughter Sasha, until January 2013, when she announced a relationship with actor Junno Andrade.

At 49, she admitted in a TV Globo program that she was sexually abused in her childhood by a friend of her father, a boyfriend of her grandmother, and a teacher until she was 13 years old, which was what made her promote her social activism in favor of children.

Xuxa with her daughter Sasha when she was little
Xuxa with her daughter Sasha when she was little

On March 5, 2015, after 29 years at TV Globo, Xuxa signed a contract with Rede Récord. It is estimated that after more than thirty years of career, she has a net worth of more than 500 million dollars. She is currently dedicated to writing children’s books and to her daughter Sasha Meneghel Szafir, 22, who works as a model and who accompanied her in January 2020 to Angola to help the children of that country who live in a delicate context, with the help of the NGO Baluarte.

In her autobiographical book “Memories,” Xuxa usually maintains that she hardly refers to her past partnersbecause it is not only about my life but about their lives.” However, she clarifies that she cannot omit them “because they are also part of my life, of my history.”