Interview with Romário

15Jul11

Romário's cabinet in Brasília

Romário is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most successful strikers of all times, with more than a thousand goals scored. On club level, he was the top scorer of important leagues and became a legend in big sides as Vasco da Gama, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Flamengo, among others. His flawless performance in 1994 World Cup inspired and led the Brazilian national team to lift their fourth trophy after a twenty-four year period of frustration. According to Dutch genious Johan Cruijff, ‘Romário had a fantastic quality in his football. In spite of not working that hard, he could create incredible plays’.

O Baixinho (The Short Man) retired in 2009, then he ran for Federal Deputy and was elected with an expressive votation: 146.859 Rio de Janeiro citizens chose him as their representative.

In an interview published by the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo on June 20, Romário gave his views on Ricardo “Tricky Ricky” Teixeira (Brazilian Football Confederation president) as well as on the organization of the next FIFA World Cup that will take place in Brazil in 2014.

world champion and golden ball winner

Folha – How do you you assess the World Cup’s organization?

Romário – When the World Cup was announced back then, I celebrated it a lot. I said two things: Brazil had conditions not only to host the World Cup, but also to organize the greatest one of all times. I remain with the first idea. I give up the second one.

Folha– Why?

Romário – Because, according to what I can see, things won’t happen. There will be the World Cup but, unfortunately, we’ll have problems and it isn’t going to be the best of all times. I’m going to tell you something: the evangelicals believe Jesus is going to come back. Only He is able to make Brazil organize the best World Cup. If He falls down from heaven in the next three years, it’ll be possible then.

Folha – Does Ricardo Teixeira accumulate power for commanding LOC (Local Organizing Committee) and CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation)?

Romário – In Brazil, there are skilled people who can take the role of commanding LOC, but he thinks he can do it. Due to his age (64), it isn’t good for him though. I’d pick another person, someone as Henrique Meirelles (former Brazilian Central Bank president), for the Olympic Games. It’d be a smaller stress.

celebrating a goal against Real Madrid

Folha – Does a ‘Henrique Meirelles solution’ to the World Cup still have enough time to happen?

Romário – In my point of view, as we’re three years far from the World Cup, it would be a good idea if Mr. Teixeira and his assessors concluded that there’s room for somebody else. But, sometimes, vanity is on people’s way. I don’t know if it’s his case, maybe it is.

Folha – Why did you invite Ricardo Teixeira to testify at the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil?

Romário – I’ve been to five World Cup host-cities and I’m going to other ones later. There was a budget at the beginning of the preparation that, at least, was doubled. According to what I heard in those cities, they couldn’t comply with the planning. FIFA sends a recommendation to LOC, and LOC transforms it into an obligation. Ricardo Teixeira is LOC’s president, CBF’s president and takes part of FIFA ranks. There’s nobody in Brazil or world-wide that can answer what really is going on better than him. If things don’t change, the stadiums are going to cost R$15 billion, and that’s a shame.

Folha – And the complaints about bribery charge?

Romário – If he comes and explains it, I’ll be the first to sign for a PCI ( parliamentary commission of inquiry) and ask the other deputies for the same thing. But, since when there was a PCI request, a new complaint appears every day and the whole thing gets weirder and weirder. I definitely don’t know if the Chamber will have enough time to check it out. I’d come and and testify if I were president Ricardo Teixeira. Even if he isn’t responsible for an illegality or for the slowing down in any construction, he’s Brazil’s almighty and he has to answer.

playing for PSV Eindhoven

Folha – What if Teixeira doesn’t clarify it all?

Romário – If he isn’t successful in his answering, not only will I keep my signature to open a PCI, but I also will make the other deputies sign it as well. It isn’t a personal issue.

Folha – Who is against the PCI affirms that it can disturb the organization of the World Cup…

Romário – Being grateful to Ricardo Teixeira due to the World Cup doesn’t mean that he’s the World Cup. I understand that there are political issues that can spoil the World Cup by messing with a person as powerful as he is. I’m from PSB (a Brazilian political party) and have always voted for the government even in situations that I wouldn’t vote. But I also walk on the streets and I know what people demand from me.

Folha – Ricardo Teixeira has been in charge of Brazilian football for a long time. What can explain it?

Romário – This is one of the best questions I’ve heard lately. But I’m going to do it differently: answer yourself. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you this. Even if all complaints are true, we can’t disconsider his ability in bringing the World Cup to Brazil. But, unfortunately, I can’t answer why so much power for such a long time and why so many things about him come out. I swear I’d like to answer that, but I don’t know.

an ex-footballer as a politician

Folha – Did you cut off relations with Ricardo Teixeira?

Romário – I’ve never been his friend, though we’ve always had a friendly relation. I personally don’t have anything against him and I’m rooting for him to escape from the complaints against him. I want the Brazilians who regard him as an “evil” person can acknowledge him for the World Cup. But if one of the complaints is true, I can’t take my name away from the PCI. The fact of playing football doesn’t mean that I’m in favor of what’s wrong. I haven’t come to Brasília to waste my time. I gained 11 kilos in two months, I almost lost my wife, I left the things I love behind, such as playing some football, hanging out to listen to some funk (a Brazilian rhythm from Rio), drinking soda and sometimes champagne. It’s a sacrifice that I’ve made. Excuse my French, but I fucking don’t give a shit to anybody and I have the right to speak out and put things clear for those who voted in me.

Folha – Nowadays, how do you classify Brazilian football management?

Romário – Nowadays, when people talk about mafia and football – I don’t know whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate – Ricardo Teixeira’s name is always heard. Nobody is going to hear it from me because I got no proofs. But, definitely, there’s a mob in football.

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