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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.

That is why he did not end up signing for Flamengo of Rio, the club he supports, despite saying time and time again that he wants to wear their red and black shirt before he retires from the game.

He had been training with the club for four months as he recuperated from his injury, and it was assumed that either he would sign for Flamengo or go back for one last dart at Europe, so the news that he had joined Corinthians of Sao Paulo came as a huge surprise, especially to the Flamengo directors, who were accused of sleeping on the job.

Ronaldo will not be fit to play until february

Flamengo, and potential European buyers, wanted to wait and see if Ronaldo could get fit enough to play at a high level. In footballing terms, it was a perfectly sensible decision.

Corinthians, though, were thinking along different lines. They were prepared to take the gamble of paying Ronaldo big money while he is still recovering - the season starts towards the end of January, but he is not expected to be fit until mid-February - because they were focused on the return he would give them in marketing terms.

It is here that the weakness of the current domestic Brazilian game is highlighted.

The list of top scorers in the 2008 championship tells the story. The leading marksmen were journeymen strikers in their mid 30s, plus a couple of up-and-comers around the 20 mark - no big stars anywhere near their peak, they are all in Europe.

I was recently at a conference of coaches in Brazil where this issue was confronted in extremely frank terms.

Wanderley Luxemburgo, once in charge of Real Madrid and the Brazilian national team, and a champion of Brazil five different times with four different clubs, had this to say: "Nowadays we don't have real talent in our league.

"We don't have that type of player capable of breaking through the tactical scheme of the opposition. There is no tactical formation that can't be undone by a dribble, but we're lacking the player who can produce it."

Last year Brazilian football sold a record 1,176 players abroad. True, the credit crisis might slow the process down, and there are some legislative changes afoot which might make it possible for Brazilian football to hang on to some of its players for a while longer, but the trend is not going to stop.

Today's youngsters have grown up with the dream of playing for a big European club. Those who work with youth development in Brazil talk of the difficulties they have in controlling the desire of players to move across the Atlantic as quickly as possible.

The most successful Brazilian clubs are the ones who have best adapted to this reality. Sao Paulo (champions last three years, world champions the year before that) and Internacional (world champions in 2006 and holders of the continent's UEFA Cup equivalent) are both doing the same thing; investing in youth work in order to produce and sell potential stars, allowing them to sustain a squad of good and average players.

At the moment, special attention is being paid to those in the 27-30 age group - players who might have failed in Europe and now have little hope of another chance, but in the right collective context they can be highly effective.

It is a pragmatic model, effective enough to give Sao Paulo and Internacional 1-0 victories over Liverpool and Barcelona respectively in the final of the Club World Cup, but it doesn't set the pulse racing the way that a genuine world class talent can.

Now, Corinthians have one in Ronaldo - or, at least, one who until recently was among the very best around.

If domestic Brazilian football was full of big names, then the gamble on Ronaldo would hardly be worth taking. As it is, he gives the club a marketing advantage because none of their rivals have anyone of similar stature.

But if Ronaldo's arrival at Corinthians illustrates the weakness of the current Brazilian domestic game, it also highlights the force of its history - and that is a subject I'll return to next week.

Please leave comments on this week's piece in the space provided. Other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

I'm an avid follower of Brazilian football and I'm particularly looking forward to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Do you know whether the cities bidding to host matches have been chosen as yet? Also can you fill me in on the selection process and who will be the body to make the final decision. I guess there must be deadlines for bids. I read the FIFA Inspection report and apparently none of the stadiums in Brazil were up to World Cup standard. Do you think, taking into account the current economic crisis, Brazil will have the them ready for 2014?
Jimmy Apara

First up, I'm sure that Brazil can stage an excellent and successful World Cup. I'm not quite so confident on the vital question of legacy. This is a wonderful opportunity for Brazil. We'll have to see if they can take advantage of it.

As soon as politics is involved in Brazil, things become complicated. For political reasons Brazil doesn't want to choose the cities. This decision is being pushed to FIFA, and will be announced in March - 18 cities are bidding and FIFA will choose 10 or 12 (Brazil has been lobbying hard for 12 and thinks it has been successful on this point).

Personally, I think this is very, very slow progress. Although the decision was formally announced last October, it was made clear in March 2003 that Brazil would host the 2014 World Cup. We should be further down the line by now.

The stadiums concern me. According to the FIFA report of last year, there will be lots of remodelled stadiums which are planning to retain their current structure with the stands a long way back from the pitch. If this is so, these stadiums are obsolete before the work has even started.

But specialists are more worried about the infra-structure work. They think that the stadiums can be fixed in three years, but that the transport projects have to start urgently.

It's up to Brazilian society to keep the pressure up. The example is there with the Pan-American Games, which Rio staged last year. The authorities spent a lot of money - and a lot of time congratulating themselves - but the legacy is very poor. A repeat would be a terrible waste.


  • Comment number 1.

    Good Stuff as usual

    It is a great shame to see a once great striker possibly just being used now, in the latter stages of his career as just a marketing tool, a commercial exercise, a cash cow if you will. but then agen, as you say Tim, money talks an awful lot in the Brazilian game and this could be the difference for a team like Corinthians securing their future for youth development for future years to come.

    Also a great shame to see his career wrecked by injuries. Injuries which I feel have never been helped by what I see as his clubs always rushing him back to fitness to play again asap, he should of always been given full time to recover as to maybe keep his career alive in europe.

    but all the best to the guy back in his homeland, hope he can forge out a success of the remainder of his career.

  • Comment number 2.

    big respect for ronnie he is one of my all time favorite players just for the pure enjoyment he brought to the world cup 98, no-one could touch him he was the pele of his time and i totally agree with you about the 2002 WC we thought he was a gonner but he came back (not as spectacular) and took the most goals crown - im just glad the injuries did not rob us of a great unlike gazza....

  • Comment number 3.

    Nice Blog Tim

    Of the four teams which have competed in the world club championship from south america in the last 4 editions(Sao Paulo,Internacional,Boca,Quito)only boca seemed to play attractive,atacking football. Rest of the teams more or less played with a cautious approach contributing to a dour game.From your observations which of the leagues in south america is the best in terms of technical skill,ability? Majority of asians believe argentian league is the best outside of europe...What is your take on that?

  • Comment number 4.

    Very interesting article Tim, I agree entirely about Ronaldo, a player who at his best was (to wheel out a cliche) in a different league.

    For me he is the paradox of a player who has done it all really and yet leaves the aftertaste of a player who's career seems to be one that smacks of 'what could have been'. I truly believe injury has denied him the chance to be thought of very much alongside Pele, Maradona, Muller and Cruyff.

    Considering the points you've made in this article and previous ones about the weaknesses of the domestic South America leagues the problems seem to bubble down to three problems, internal politics of respective nations (which I'll leave aside because I don't pretend to be well enough informed to suggest a solution but the other two is lack of cash (comparable to Europe) and inability to hang on to high class talent (Messi, Ronaldo, Kaka) beyond the age of 18-20.

    Other medium sized domestic leagues such as The SPL in Scotland, the Dutch league and the Portuguese top flight seem to have similar problems. Lack of cash and incentive to make genuinely world class players stay and a difficulty in making overseas TV markets interested in their games. These leagues have wrestled with trying to compete with the EPL, Serie A and La Liga for years and like South America, it's a losing battle against the big three.

    In regards the SPL and other 'middle' standard leagues (forgive the patronising adjective) the only solution that seems to repeatedly come back again and again as an answer to the big three's domination is some kind of merged league that would form a single multi-nation 20 team league to rival Italy England or Spain.

    I know there is a Champions League equivalent in South America, but is any kind of permanently merged league of the 20 best teams in South America even a slight possibility? I know FIFA are always against this sort of thing and organising it would be a logistical knightmare, but surely it is the only hope for ever making players like Kaka and Messi want to stay at home beyond 18.

  • Comment number 5.

    Tim, i respect you a lot as a professional, but i'm just a little bit disappointed right now. I think you should stop cheating people when you say you are a "South American Soccer Reporter" because you only write about brazilian stuffs. If you think that Ronaldo's recovery is most important than an "Argentina Triangular Final" that confirms Boca as the new champion...then you have to change the sub-title of this blog to something like: "Brazilian soccer reporter and other minor leagues".
    And i repeat, as a professional you are a very great one, but your attitude is giving me a headache. Ronaldo's recovery...oh God...

  • Comment number 6.

    Ronaldp is and probably will remain my favourite player of all time. I’m only 25 so I grew up watching this genius at PSV, Barcelona and Inter Milan. Every kid growing up in the 90’ies wanted to be Ronaldo in the playground – Literally every kid.

    It is a shame that he has to end his illustrious career in such a sad fashion where he’s been used as a marketing tool. I saw a picture of him just about a year ago, and the man looked in a right state. He’s finished.

    I feared for him when he sustained that nasty knee injury whilst at Inter which kept him out of the game for the good part of 4 years. But to both mine and your surprises he came back in a stunning fashion and became top scorer in Japan/Korea in 2002 – Sadly, he has never been the same since. I do believe some of the blame lies at the Real Madrid medical staff rushing him back when he wasn’t 110% fit.

    Had it not been for his injuries we would now be debating him alongside the all-time greats of this game. But instead it’s all “ifs” and “buts”.

  • Comment number 7.

    #4, forget about a merged league in South America. Travel distances are huge and to me it would kill off the interest of matches involving the big clubs. What makes a Boca v. Sao Paulo match or similar one so interesting is that it just happens once in a while.

  • Comment number 8.

    Great blog.

    However in response to number 4. Many players leave Brazil/ Argentina because they cant get the same oppertunities in S America as they would in Europe. If it wasnt for Barcelona there would be no Messi as he suffered from serious back problems as a child. They paid for his medical treatment which would not have happened in Argentina. Without this he would not be playing football today. What a waste of talent that would have been.

    Ronaldo is a footballing legend. Although players like Raul are still playing at the very top if you take into account the couple of seasons when Ronaldo was at Barca, he was untouchable. Raul was never untouchable. One of the best strikers to ever grace the game.

  • Comment number 9.

    as usual tim another great read.
    Ronaldo without a doubt can be said to be one of the greats maybe not in same league as cruyff, diego or pele but based on his achievements he's up with the likes of Fontaine and muller. As someone said you can't help but feel there could have been more to him, for someone so young being in a world cup winning squad of 1994 he had his best years in his youth. I wouldve loved to see a fully fit ronaldo now coming into his later years (such as pele in 1970) and playing top level football as I'm sure he wouldve won at least one more ballon d'or in the last 5 years. Such a shame and as said it could be blamed on being rushed back not fully fit by the likes of Madrid when more benefits may have came from being more patient!

  • Comment number 10.

    I am a Corinthians fan (since arriving and living in Sao Paulo, my real loyalties lie with QPR) and i was really pleased with the announcement of Ronaldo.. I would have prefered he signed for QPR, but joining Timao was the next best thing. I understand he is a big risk, but he offers that bit of excitement, especially pre season, that you are always talking about that the brazilian season misses out on, the period when you think your team is good, and could do the business this season. Obviously we won't know for a few months if the gamble pays off but i am excited for the first time about the football here, where as previously I can't say that i have been really interested as the level is not yhe greatest.
    I'm also hoping that Corinthians get this gamble correct, unlike the previous time they contracted a big name star at the end of his career, namely Garrincha!

    I love the way he is referred to as "Fenomeno" here in brazil, by everyone... he is truelly a world great, and I hope he can at least have a few last moments of magic before he bows out.

    Tim, keep up the good work with the blog.. it's always a great read.

  • Comment number 11.

    Can someone please explain to me how this is (commercially) so different to the AC Milan / David Beckham saga.

    Again, here you have a once-very good player who is into his early thirties, signing for a huge club who are being seen to take a "punt" on them, potentially for a short period of time. Equally, Beckham is being seen as a bit of a cash cow, as his marketing pull is still virtually unrivalled. In both cases, there is no guarantee that the player will turn out to be anything other than a flop from a playing perspective, but earn a few quid off the back of it.

    AC Milan are viewed as being commercially astute; this article almost paints Corinthians' plans in a sympathetic light.

    In my view it should be viewed the same as the Beckham loan; good money-making exercise from which the club may get a decent player, almost as a bonus. Good luck to them, no need to feel sorry.

  • Comment number 12.

    point taken - and I don't feel that it's sad at all that Corinthians are giving Ronaldo this opportunity. Let's hope he can take advantage of it.

    Not also sure that his injuries are Real Madrid's fault. Fact is that he's bulked up so much over the years - he was a skinny little kid when he first made his name in Brazil, and then bulked up in search of power - seems to me that this has put a lot of strain on his knees over the years, and in recent times he's been treading a fine line - whenever he's been fit he's also been on the verge of a breakdown. Milan's medical staff say that they were aware that he was a timebomb.

    The difference between Beckham and Ronaldo - Beckham is an extra for Milan - look at the stars they have. Ronaldo is much more than an extra in Corinthians' marketing strategy.

    These days the marketing returns are part of the calculations in the decisions to sign top players - my point in the Ronaldo sitation is that the cost/benefit relations have been skewed by the fact that Corinthians are buying a differential - none of their rivals have a Ronaldo figure.

  • Comment number 13.

    Always great to get a response to questions, thanks a lot Tim.

    I agree with you that the difference lies in the fact that potentially Ronaldo would be exceptional for both the team and the league.

    Good luck to him, would be fantastic to see him banging them in again, the man is a living legend!

  • Comment number 14.

    isnt Adraino and Fred suppose to be going back to Brazil. That Surely proves the Brazilian League is getting better.

    However i was just wondering how argentinian teams manage to keep some of their star players such as riquilme and veron when brazilians can't?

  • Comment number 15.

    great stuff as always tim.

    ronaldo is such a legend.

  • Comment number 16.

    Adriano's going back to Brazil because Inter don't want him anymore - seemingly because he's lazy and sporadic.

    And Ronaldo is a legend, but he's no Mario Jardel ;)

  • Comment number 17.

    My lady bought me a Palmeiras Adidas top for Christmas. Proper BOSS it is.

  • Comment number 18.

    The sentence that stuck out for me was:

    "Last year Brazilian football sold a record 1,176 players abroad"

    One thousand, one hundred and seventy six players.

    That's nearly 107 teams' worth of players.

    The fact their league is still running must be a testament to the amount of talent available in Brazil.

    Imagine if that many players left England. The league would be on it's knees.

    I will now be boring folk with that fact for the rest of the festive period. Thank you.

  • Comment number 19.

    Always a great read Tim, keep it up

  • Comment number 20.

    For your interest - and some more figures for KramerC to memorise;

    numbers of players transferred abroad from Brazilian football over the last few years;

    2005 - 804
    2006 - 851
    2007 - 1085
    2008 - 1176

    The numbers returning to Brazil are also increasing - last 3 years were 311, 489 and 659.

  • Comment number 21.

    Best Player To Grace The Football Pitch!!
    And also an unlucky player on the injury front, career threatening injuries at inter milan and ac milan etc imagine how many many more goals he would have scored in that time!!
    And as for being up with pele and maradonna he is if not even better!!
    I grew up in the 90's aswel watchin ronaldo and i have great memories of the world cup 1998 watching him play undoutably amazing football at its best, pitty about the WCF when he had a serious cunvulsion and was still made to play in the final due to advertisement and sponsers for nike and brazil, ashame really!!
    Best playe i've ever seen!!
    What annoys me now is you see ronaldo that plays for manchester united ting linked with real madrid for sums of £60 million etc its sickening in all fairness ronaldo of manchester united will never be half the player the phenomenon luis nazario de lima ronaldo was!!
    Great articlee btw!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Tim i am wondering where the majority of the 1176 brazilian players go.
    also great blog.

  • Comment number 23.

    They go everywhere - Portugal is the single biggest importer.

  • Comment number 24.

    I have to agree with most comments here regarding Ronaldo, he was a great player and could have been a greater one, but it is not just injuries that have robbed him of that chance, and to blame clubs for rushing him back is nonsense. Ronaldo has for quite a few years has not looked after himself his weight as balooned and he has enjoyed the party life a little bit too much, granted this was probably brought on with the frustration of being out injured a lot, but if he had looked after himself better then I am sure he would still be playing for one of the top clubs in the world. I would like to here your comments on this one please Tim.

  • Comment number 25.

    Hi Tim

    great blog as ever, thought though you were maybe going to mention the end of the opening stage of the Argentinian league, Boca winning the three way play-off and Racing finally coming out of Bankruptcy.

    I was also wondering what you thought of the 3 year average point system they use and whether many of the other SA countries use it? I kind of like the idea as I think it should encourage building towards the future, but does it also just keep the same clubs towards the top and the same clubs towards the bottom?


  • Comment number 26.

    Great article again Tim.

    It says so much about Ronaldo's ability that despite his achievements, which don't need to be reiterated here, we are still left with an underlying sense of 'what might have been' had injuries not wrought such havoc.

    Greatest striker of all time??? (My personal choice is MVB...another sad case of 'if only')

    On another note it is sad to witness the current predicament throughout South American Football - although players like Riquelme and Veron still feature domestically, the premature exodus of players from Argentina mirrors that of Brazil. Veron is at the end of his career, and Riquelme, for all his undoubted talent, is a difficult wee sod by all accounts which may go some way towards an explanation.

  • Comment number 27.

    I couldn't agree more with Luxemburgo. I think the last guys who could break through whole tactic schemes were Kaka and Ronaldinho. Pato and Robinho are good, but, as a rule, I don't think they are able to change the 'big picture' of a match.

    What do you think of Alex and Hernanes, the talents of the 2008 Brazilian league, Tim? In spite of their age, I think they would develop a lot if they played in the more competitive European leagues.

  • Comment number 28.

    Gotta agree with Ali Don. EVERY kid in the playground/park wanted to be Ronaldo. That's worth more than any number of Ballon d'Ors.

    No disrespect to greats such as Zidane, Henry, Del Piero and Raul, but, when on song, El Fenomeno had no equal.

    And if not for injuries, he WOULD have been the greatest of them all. I'm sure I ain't the only one who believes this.

  • Comment number 29.

    Tim, Thought provoking as ever, here's my two bob. Ronaldo is a modern day legend. I was hoping we might take a punt on him at Chelsea for six months... Surely the fact - as you say and continued in your thread is the sheer numbers of people moving from the country.
    Its not a problem related solely to football or Brazil. Iran for example/ as are many central Asian countries are loosing thousands of highly gifted youngsters/ teens/ young adults who head abroad to live. The reasons they give are exactly the same that the footballers you mention move to Europe. Its the same with the domestic league in Iran. There is more money to be had playing in Qatar, or Tashkent if your semi decent.
    So Im not surprised that in the current financial crisis, European clubs look to cheap imports and when their gaze fixes on a potential new Ronaldo, or Rivaldo, they get snapped up. Even if they go some way to fulfilling their early promise, the clubs will make a buck on them. Look at what the Russian and Ukrainian leagues are doing and in the main, Jo from Moscow to City springs to mind... those players are also improving the leagues. So when the players are offered More money and a better quality of life they'll take it. Should the move not work out, the family back home will be better off regardless of the outcome due to signing on fees or whatever other carrots are dangled in front of a young man.
    Hows about this one for you... If you were offered more money and a huge villa to report on African football, would you do it? My take is people coming form lower off backgrounds will always jump at a chance to earn more regardless of where it is. I reckon more needs to be done to foster and look after the youngsters in their homelands of South AMerica. In the same way English clubs do with the acadamys. Anyone, im open to changing my views on the above. Cheers

  • Comment number 30.


    Verón played most of his career in Europe and returned to finish it up in his beloved club, Estudiantes. In the case of Riquelme, it seems the only place he can feel at ease is Boca Juniors.

    So there aren´t that many stars in the Argentinian league. Maybe Palacio from Boca even though he has lost momentum.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hello Tim,,

    I am a fan of yours.. Its been some time since I last heard you on the radio,,, I reckon Ronaldo is the games Best Central forward player ever ,,, I loved and enjoyed watching him,,

  • Comment number 32.

    Tim, what do you think about Mauro Zarate and Gonzalo Higuain, both 21 and both have been excellent this season so far and do you think Maradona will give them a chance? Imagine a trio of Aguero, Zarate and Higuain!

    Also what is your opinion on Carlos Vela and how good do you think he can become?

  • Comment number 33. fail to disappoint!
    Internacional are looking serious, as you pointed out, keeping d'alessandro, alex and nilmar, but also going for ricardo noir, among others.

    regarding the article, you put forward that brazil is not improving if it continues to play youngsters and oldies, and sell the real talent. but the truth is, what does the brasileirao have to give to these players? quoting both giovanni of hull city and ze roberto of bayern munich "i cannot provide these opportunities to my family in brazil", and they're talking about education and safety, among other much of an issue do you think that is?

  • Comment number 34.

    Watching Flamengo play Botafogo last month I can tell you that Brazilian football has a long way to go to match any of the major leagues in Europe for talent, tactics and entertainment.

    Of course it all boils down to money. Europe has it and Brazil doesn't. Europe still continues to plunder South America for its resources in just the same way the conquistadors did hundreds of years ago. Only now its footballers and not gold.

    Its sad to see Ronnie slip down the slope and back into the doldrums. I wish him well. Just keep him away from the rodizio. He just can't help himself that boy.

  • Comment number 35.

    hi tim

    i can see what you are saying but there is so much more money in europe than what their is in the brazlian league

    if they invested a lot of money into it and made the league more popular you might get your arabian people to start coming in

    by the way ronaldo will never by the same player i do not think he will ever play in europe again

  • Comment number 36.

    Interesting stuff Tim. I think you need to appreciate that Flamengo are financially in trouble. they couldn't offer Ronaldo the deal Corinthians did. Simple as.

    Corinthians have recouped some of their investment in shirt sales and other marketing deals. Flamengo, for all their claims to 35 millions fans, couldn't organise marketing campaigns if their lives depended on it. And increasingly their lives are depending on it.

    I think its disingenious to suggest Ronaldo staying in Brasil is a sign of weakness in the Brasileirao. He's staying for his family's sake, not for your blog's sake!

    Keep up the good work, enjoyed reading it even if you were off the mark in my opinion.


    Carioca Mengista

  • Comment number 37.

    If this was really all about Ronaldo's family then he'd stay in Rio.

    So it's all about the money - his right as a professional.

    And why are Corinthians prepared to offer him money before he's proved his fitness?

    The answer surely lies in the marketing possibilities - which in turn arise from the absence of big stars in the contemporary Brazilian game.

    I never thought they'd done it to make it easier for me to write a blog!

  • Comment number 38.

    The best ever striker to walk on this earth......
    who can forget the day he destroyed Man Untd in the Champions League....
    The first goal was just brilliant, the second goal was due to a great passing move, and the third was just out of this World....
    even that little Ronaldo-wanna-be will never be anyway near that level.....

  • Comment number 39.

    Brazilian football's financial situation, like the economic situation in the country as a whole, is improving; however, the fact remains that, with the exception of Argentina's clubs, no other country here in South America can really present a challenge at international club tournaments (like the Libertadores Cup or the Sulamericana) - LDU's altitude advantage notwithstanding. The lack of high-profile international matches here in South America to compete with the glamour of the Champions' League and UEFA Cup is another factour that drives players away from the domestic league here to try their luck in Europe. Until the continent as a whole can produce high-level, entertaining football to attract the type of investors we need, the hemorhage will continue.

    What can be done? For starters, South American leagues need to swallow their pride and reflect the European calendar. One of the major problems is that the players who do go to Europe leave in the middle of the season; as such, clubs who start off the season red hot often see their best players leave, and they whither away. Inter and São Paulo have been able to contain this exactly in the fashion you mention in the article - by holding on to average to slightly above average players who've not had much in the way of European success. However, the entire league would benefit much more by allowing clubs to start and finish the entire season with the same squads. Imagine what will happen if Ronaldo WERE to become red hot again, and Manchester City or PSG were to come knocking, even despite his age?

    Whatever the realities, Brazilian football is still stronger today than it was 10 years ago.

  • Comment number 40.

    Is it true that Internacional won't play in the Libertadores this year?

  • Comment number 41.

    He's staying in Brasil because of his family. Sao Paolo is a 30 minute flight away from Rio! Nobody can afford him in Rio.

    He didn't go to Flamengo as they're broke not because Corinthians stole him from under their noses.

  • Comment number 42.

    "He didn't go to Flamengo as they're broke not because Corinthians stole him from under their noses."

    Corinthians financial situation is worse than Flamengo's, considerably more so: they are returning from relegation, and only begin to recover of near-bankruptancy, while Flamengo, for all it's problems, played in Libertadores in the last two years, won tbe Brazilian Cup in 2006 and it's been on the top of table in the last couple of seasons.

    Alongside what Tim mentioned, another factor that influenced Ronaldo's decision was that Nike is the one that makes Corinthians T-shirts and go there would please them, certainly much more than going to Flamengo, since the two of them are involved in a judicial battle and Flamengo already signed with another company.

  • Comment number 43.


  • Comment number 44.

    The last 2 pieces are of course basically about the same thing the comparison of European and South American club football.
    Nobody can deny that European football with all its money has created 5 or 6 clubs who are better than anything in South America.However after this tiny elite European club football is boring just look at the Champions league or the so called title races in England,Spain or Italy the 3 leading countries which have at best 3 contenders.Compare that with Argentina with 9 different title winners this decade yes 9 not just the superpowers of River and Boca but all the mid ranked powers Independiente,Racing,San Lorenzo and Velez but also provincial teams Estudiantes,Newells and even a small Buenos Aires team Lanus not to mention how tiny Tigre almost made it 10.So heres 1 European who much prefers competition exciting young talent and the occasional masterpice from Riquelme,Veron or Ortega

  • Comment number 45.

    Ronaldo is an icon. but he will have to endure some insults when he playss Flamengo.


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