Romario, Ronaldo at odds over World Cup

Nov 07, 2013, 4:41 PM EST
In this Dec. 23, 2011 file photo, former soccer stars Romario, left, and Ronaldo give a news conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Romario and Ronaldo are at odds over the World Cup in Brazil, criticizing each other's conflicting comments about what the tournament means to the country's population.
AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano

SAO PAULO (AP) — In a clash of Brazilian soccer greats and World Cup champions, Romario and Ronaldo are at odds over what the showpiece tournament means to the country.

Ronaldo, a member of the local organizing committee, says the 2014 World Cup brings nothing but benefits to the Brazilian people. Romario, an outspoken congressman, complains about the misuse of public funds.

"It's easy to be the opposition and just attack everyone," Ronaldo said this week when asked about Romario's criticism.

Romario took to Twitter late Wednesday to respond, assailing his former teammate for being part of the "corrupt entities" of FIFA and the local organizing committee.

Ronaldo also accused Romario of lack of patriotism because of his repeated attacks on the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950.

"I don't want everyone to think the way I do or for everyone to believe in everything that I believe in," he said. "But when I was invited to be part of the committee I believed that the World Cup would be a great opportunity for Brazil to grow with all the investments that the tournament would attract. I believed in this and I did this for my country."

Romario has been attacking World Cup organizers and Brazilian authorities since he took office as congressman in 2010, criticizing FIFA's influence in Brazil and the costs of hosting the tournament. In a recent congressional hearing, Romario called FIFA President Sepp Blatter "a thief" and secretary general Jerome Valcke "a blackmailer."

"I'm not against the World Cup," Romario posted. "I'm against the excessive costs of this tournament. I've said before that Brazil is wasting an opportunity to become a better country."

Romario said FIFA and local organizers will profit significantly from the World Cup while the Brazilian people will not gain nearly as much by hosting soccer's premier event. He has always made it clear that he is not fond of Ronaldo's decision to join the local organizing committee.

"I'm not part of these corrupt and unscrupulous entities," Romario said. "I don't receive any money from FIFA."

In his remarks, Ronaldo reiterated that he is a volunteer on the organizing committee and is not being paid. Former Brazil striker Bebeto is also a member of the local committee.

Romario also attacked Ronaldo by mentioning again the former striker's 2011 comments that "you can't host a World Cup by building hospitals," which received a lot of criticism at the time.

"I don't think the World Cup is organized just with stadiums," Romario said on Twitter.


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