BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for December 2008

Ronaldo deal highlights Brazil problem

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Tim Vickery | 07:50 UK time, Monday, 29 December 2008

Almost a decade and a half after his European adventure began, Ronaldo is back in his homeland and preparing for the new season with Corinthians.

Some see this as a sign of the growing strength of Brazilian domestic football, but I'm not so sure. To me it seems more like a sign of its weakness.

I'm a Ronaldo fan. The fact that he has scored more World Cup goals than anyone else means he belongs among the all time greats, and especially as he dominated the 2002 World Cup after fighting back from an injury that many, myself included, feared would end his career at the highest level.

But it is a fact that over the last five years, even before this latest serious knee injury, he has been unable to remain fit for a prolonged period of time.

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Europe-South America gulf widens

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Tim Vickery | 15:32 UK time, Sunday, 21 December 2008

How would the top South American clubs fare in a major European league?

It is a question I am frequently asked. All too often any debate on this subject quickly degenerates into a depressing nationalist slanging match. Regular readers might recall that I have at times been shot at by both sides in this squabble - I've been accused of being a running dog of First World imperialism seeking to undermine South American football, but also of having gone native and turning against the land of my birth - which, I think, puts me in a good space to give an opinion. But that's all it is - my opinion. And as a wonderful South American phrase puts it, I'm not the sole owner of the truth.

The main evidence we can call on is the Club World Cup, which over the last four years has climaxed with a final between the champions of Europe and South America on neutral ground. With Manchester United's victory on Sunday the score now stands at two wins per continent.

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The prestige of the Club World Cup

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Tim Vickery | 09:14 UK time, Monday, 15 December 2008

One of my regrets is that I arrived in Brazil too late - by more than a decade - to catch the great Flamengo team of the early 80s.

Spearheaded by Zico, with a supporting cast including Junior, Leandro, Mozer and Adillio, they gave weekly recitals of top-class football which are still remembered fondly by those lucky enough to be there.

Their finest hour came 27 years ago, when they beat Liverpool 3-0 in Tokyo in the first of the annual clashes held in Japan between the champions of Europe and South America. For them it was a huge occasion, for Liverpool it was a bit of a giggle.

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What price Brazilian football?

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Tim Vickery | 09:34 UK time, Monday, 8 December 2008

Predictably enough, the final day of the Brazilian league season came with a touch of controversy.

Sao Paulo needed a point away to Goias to win their third consecutive title and their sixth in all (both are records).

But after incidents in their stadium, Goias were obliged to stage the game a few hundred miles away in Gama, a satellite town of the capital Brasilia. With nothing riding on the game for them, Goias decided to take advantage of the importance of the occasion to their opponents. Ticket prices were pushed up twenty times the normal amount - which after political pressure was reduced to a still-exorbitant 10-fold increase.

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Problems in Uruguay

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Tim Vickery | 10:45 UK time, Monday, 1 December 2008

Until his death in the late 80s Brazilian TV had a wonderful presenter called Chacrinha, who conducted an anarchic programme wearing carnival clothes, carrying a giant horn and yelling out nonsense slogans. "Who wants cod?" he would shout as he hurled fish into the audience.

One of his favourite slogans was "I come to confuse, and not to explain." South America often makes me think of it. It is a continent where human intelligence is frequently used to complicate matters, and not to simplify. And unlike Chacrinha's programme, the results are not hilarious, just frustrating.

Chacrinha's Law (my name for the process where supposedly clever people defend absurd positions) is alive and well in Uruguay.

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