SAO PAULO – In the latest chapter of a spat between past Brazil soccer greats, Ronaldo is publicly criticizing Romario for making another attack on him, this time over an alleged broken promise to provide free World Cup tickets for people with disabilities.
Romario, now an outspoken lawmaker, is blaming Ronaldo for making the promise and not coming through on it. Ronaldo, a member of the local World Cup organizing committee, says it was the Brazilian soccer federation that failed to fulfill its pledge.
Ronaldo criticized the attack by his former teammate, saying it's not clear why Romario continues to take shots at him.
"It's lamentable to see Romario once again coming out to publicly say that I'm responsible for things that are out of my hands," Ronaldo said Monday in a statement published on his social media accounts. "Opportunism or ignorance, I don't know. What I do know is that instead of wasting time and energy trying to disparage me, the congressman should dedicate himself to challenging the right people/institutions. We would all benefit from that."
Ronaldo said the promise to donate 32,000 World Cup tickets to people with disabilities was made by the Brazilian soccer federation, not by him.
"I'm not a politician, I don't represent (the federation), I don't promise what I can't fulfill," Ronaldo said, adding that he's sure Romario knows the promise was made by the entity and not by him.
On Friday, Romario posted a photo where he is standing by Ronaldo after a press conference held to announce the free tickets at the federation's headquarters three years ago. He wrote: "This photo was taken in 2011, when Ronaldo publicly promised the tickets for people with disabilities. So far, nothing!!!"
Ronaldo said he was there to support the cause, just like Romario. He said he also hopes that the federation comes through with its promise, and told Romario to go talk to federation officials to find out what happened.
"I'm anxiously waiting for answers, like everybody else," Ronaldo said. "If you need my support, please at least be more polite next time."
The Brazilian soccer federation could not be immediately contacted for comment.
Romario has a daughter with a disability, and one of his main causes in Congress has been to try and improve conditions for Brazilians with disabilities.
He has been critical of World Cup organizers and Brazilian authorities since he took office in 2010, decrying FIFA's influence in Brazil and the costs of hosting the tournament. He always made it clear that he was not fond of Ronaldo's decision to join the local organizing committee.
Ronaldo reiterated Monday that he's a volunteer on the organizing committee and is not being paid. Former Brazil striker Bebeto is also a member of the local committee.
Romario, who also has been at odds with Brazil great Pele in the past, led Brazil to the World Cup title in 1994, when Ronaldo was a young reserve in the squad. Ronaldo played in three other World Cups after that, winning the title in 2002 and becoming the tournament's leading scorer with 15 goals.
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