SAO PAULO (AP) — Pele says Brazilians shouldn't turn against Diego Costa for choosing to play for Spain instead of Brazil.

The football great on Monday said Brazilians "must respect his decision." He added that Diego Costa "made the right choice" if indeed he thought he was not valued by Brazil in the past. Pele defended the player for sticking "to his point of view."

Pele's comments contrast those of Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who said the player "was turning his back to the dream of millions" of Brazilians.

The Brazilian federation even threatened to ask authorities to strip Diego Costa of his Brazilian citizenship.

The Atletico Madrid striker was born in Brazil but holds a Spanish passport. He had to choose between the two nations after Scolari picked him for upcoming friendlies.