RIO DE JANEIRO, March 18 – Brazilian legends Ronaldo and Romario on Monday indulged in a World Cup war of words as the former accused his compatriot of blaming him for a promise of free tickets for handicapped fans which has not materialized.
“It is deplorable to see Romario, once again, make me publicly responsible for things which are outside my remit,” World Cup Local Organization Committee member Ronaldo wrote on his Facebook page.
Romario, 1994 world champion and now a lawmaker, himself took to social media in recent days to to say that 2002 World Cup star and record tournament scorer Ronaldo “publicly promised free entrance for handicapped people”.
“And so far, nothing.”
One post shows the pair at a 2011 press conference during which Romario announced a promise on behalf of the Brazilian football Confederation (CBF) offering 32,000 free tickets or 500 per match for disabled people.
“Is it opportunism piggybacking on my image or ignorance?” asked an aggrieved Ronaldo.
“I do not know. What I do know is that instead of wasting time and energy trying to denigrate me, we would all gain if the congressman dedicated himself to seeking out good opele or institutions.”
Ronaldo went on: “I did what I could as a citizen, to get a positive response from the institution (the CBF), and as local organizing committee spokesman I was proud to share the news with the public, with Romario.
“But I am not a politician, I do not represent the CBF, and I did not promise anything I could not deliver,” Ronaldo insisted, aghast that Romario was painting him as “the author of the promise” for the free tickets.
In reality, “it is a commitment of the CBF”.
Romario, who is standing in senate elections in October, has been a vociferous critic in recent months of the organization of the World Cup and the multibillion public investments accompanying the event — a source of public ire.
He has often made Ronaldo the target of some of that criticism and also last week made trenchant televized criticism of FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the body’s secretary general Jerome Valcke.