KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO: Brazilian football has never been in a worse state, according to double World Cup-winner Ronaldo Nazario de Lima.
Ronaldo, now a high-profile member of the local organising committee for next year’s Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup, was sounding his warning in Sao Paulo just as, in Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Felipe Scolari was being appointed in succession to sacked Mano Menezes as national coach.
Menezes was dismissed last week by confederation president Jose Maria Marin after failing to come up with success in either this year’s Copa America and then the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The decisions to sack Menezes and rush the appointment of Scolari have not been universally welcomed. The 1970 World Cup-winning captain Carlos Alberto Torres and 1970s’ superstar Zico have both been sharply critical.
Ronaldo has not criticised Scolari personally. After all, ‘Big Phil’ was his World Cup-winning manager in 2002 when Ronaldo top-scored at the World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea.
But he acknowledged that ‘Felipao’ has taken over at a difficult time in terms of a dearth of local talent with which to work. The point was brought home at the announcement of FIFA’s player award nominees ahead of the world federation’s gala in Zurich in January.
Neymar of Santos is the only Brazilian forward on the shortlist for the FIFA FIFPro World XI of the Year and was overlooked for the three-man shortlist for the World Player prize.
Ronaldo said: “We have to do some recycling. Brazil football, obviously, is not at its best moment. In fact, it’s at its worst moment in history.
“We can’t ignore the fact that Spain has been doing something extraordinary in terms of both its national league as well as its national team.
“It’s a very difficult moment for Brazilian football in terms of talent. We do have some outstanding players who stand out on an international level playing in Europe. But they tend not to be top strikers so they do not score the goals which would attract attention to themselves.
“Brazilian football needs to stop and think about its current state. There is a lot of work ahead of us.”
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