LONDON: Ronaldo – the original World Cup-winning version – has explained his belief in the importance of Brazil hosting next year’s finals, for all the controversy and negative publicity generated by the street protests.
The former centre-forward, who scored both goals in Brazil’s 2-0 defeat of Germany in the 2002 Final in Japan, was speaking just as further controversy was erupting over the decision of Rio de Janeiro state authorities to order the cancellation of this month’s Soccerex convention.
Ronaldo starred in European club football with PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Internazionale, Real Madrid and Milan.
He rejected claims that he had ‘sold out’ to heavily-criticised directors of Brazilian football such as Ricardo Teixeira and current CBF president Jose Maria Marin.
He said: “I never had the intention that everyone thought like me or believed in everything I believed.
“When I received the invitation to join the committee, I saw that it would be a great opportunity for Brazil in terms of growth as Brazil will be receiving much investment to World Cup, so I believed and I did it for my country.
“I still believe in the World Cup as a great investment, growth, development.
“I think all the facts are showing that the World Cup is a wonderful thing for our country, with great benefit in terms of investments that have been made and many others still to be delivered after the World Cup.”
He added: “I’m fighting for something that we are building. It is very easy for someone to be opposition, trying to destroy from your house without believing in a project, not believing in anything and just trying to destroy it.
“I am not doing it for myself. I am a volunteer for the World Cup, I am not earning any cents of the Committee or FIFA. I am doing it because I believe in my country and in my people – and I believe this is a great thing for our country, a great growth opportunity for our country.
“So I’ll keep acting the same way, believing in my country, believing in the Brazilian people and I really hope to have an improvement in living conditions.
“Of course we hope that other sectors have the same investment that was made for World Cup and we will follow it too. I agree with all types of protest without violence, the Brazilian are so tired of the neglect that had for many years and now we are waiting for answer by government. I am doing my part, which is to have a Brazil better even if it is through sports
“I want to see a great final at Maracana with the two best teams of the World Cup. I really hope that the organization will be perfect for the world to see a great show and also I hope that players can contribute showing great football.”
Ronaldo would not be drawn on the issue of whether Brazilian-born Diego Costa should play for his home country or Spain, his chosen country, at the World Cup.
The Atletico de Madrid striker, top scorer in La Liga this season, would not be the first player to choose an adopted country.
Ronaldo said: “I have nothing to say to Diego Costa. I know him because we stayed a few times together in Madrid. It is a his decision, I have nothing to do with it and I respect his decision.
“We have seen other examples in the past, as Deco who played for Portugal. What I can say is for the players who want to play for the Brazilian national team. It has always been a dream for me to play for Brazilian national team and I always fought for that.
“The Brazilian national team has to get players who want to be with the national team.”