Former striker has criticised organisation
7 June ~ Ronaldo was chosen as the perfect "poster boy" for the 2014 World Cup, willing to put on a hard hat for stadium kickarounds with construction workers and suiting up for press conferences. As a product of the humble Rio suburb of Bento Ribeiro he seemed to fit a Brazil governed by the leftist Partido dos Trabalhadores after 2002. FIFA was also keen to embrace someone who recovered from the debacle of missing the 1998 World Cup final and subsequent devastating injury to star in the 2002 tournament.
But while Ronaldo is not the only former World Cup star to endorse Brazil 2014, he courted controversy by remarking that "You don't make World Cups with hospitals". This widely ridiculed comment led to him being perceived as a reactionary serving Brazil's football establishment and FIFA. It is barely credible then that Ronaldo should now start to criticise delays World Cup delays and the bloated jamboree that the event has become.
Recently he admitted he "feels ashamed for the Brazilian people who expected a real legacy from the World Cup", while slamming the mismanagement of Brazilian football and taking issue with former national coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who proclaimed the football federation as "the Brazil that gets things right".
Part of Ronaldo's motivation manifested itself in his declared support for Aécio Neves of the centrist Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira, an opposition presidential candidate in the coming October elections. His ties with Neves, who is from Minas Gerais state just north of Rio, date from his spell with one of the region's top clubs, Cruzeiro.
A clear conflict of interests exists between his roles on the Local Organising Committee, running a sports agency that is involved with commercial contracts for players such as Neymar and as a TV pundit at the World Cup for the network Rede Globo. The public disagreements with another former World Cup hero, Romário, now a leftist congressman and a long-term critic of how the country is staging the World Cup, has entertained Brazilians who remain generally torn as to which of the two was the better player.
Nike, whose partnership with Ronaldo has been central to their involvement in football since 1994, have just opened Casa Fenomena (the latter being Ronaldo's nickname), an interactive exhibition in a warehouse in Rio's rubble-strewn port region. This promotes interactive street football but also happens to celebrate the company's range of footwear and national team shirts. A year after the country took to the streets to protest during the Confederations Cup, many Brazilians are yet to be convinced by sincerity of Ronaldo's apparent change of heart. Robert Shaw