MILAN/RIO: A war of words has been revived over the controversial appearance of Ronaldo at centre-forward for Brazil in their 3-0 defeat by hosts France in the 1998 World Cup Final in the Stade de France.
Ronaldo was taken ill on the morning of the game and the initial team line-ups were published with Edmundo in his place in Brazil’s attack. However Ronaldo then turned up after hospital checks and, with the agreement of all concerned, was put into Brazil’s starting line-up.
He had a poor game but was not alone in that. Later allegations were denied both that manager Mario Zagallo was overruled and ordered to play Ronaldo by CBF boss Ricardo Teixeira and/or by team sponsor Nike.
Now the controversy has been revived by Bruno Caru, a cardiologist who is doctor at Internazionale where Ronaldo was playing his club football at the time.
Caru said in Italy last week that Ronaldo had not suffered an epileptic fit, as had been claimed at the time, but had suffered a potentially-fatal ‘cardiac incident.’
The doctor said he had lately been given the opportunity to study all the documentation concerning Ronaldo’s state of health and claimed that the player had been put at risk from misdiagnosis and, hence, the wrong treatment. The reports from the time had been compiled by Inter’s then doctor, Piero Volpi, who had worked closely with Ronaldo at the 1998 finals.
Caru said: “Ronaldo had been in his hotel watching a motor-racing grand prix on television but he had been resting in an awkward position which prompted a circulation and cardiac problem. Fortunately, when he started having convulsions, this alerted his room-mate, Roberto Carlos.
“The player underwent a series of tests but, because the doctors were looking for something else, the electrocardiogram was overlooked. However this showed where the real problem lay.
“Hence Ronaldo was given powerful medication which is used for epileptic incidents but is entirely wrong for heart problems. What he was given was similar to a strong sedative which explains why he had such a poor game. After the game, apparentoy, he was like a little child, incapable of standing up and maintaing his balance.”
Caru’s analysis has been refuted by Ronaldo, who retired from playing last year because of a thyroid condition which affected weight control.
The World Cup’s all-time leading scorer said: “I’m very sad that, 14 years later, opportunists are still trying to make headlines from the controversy of the 1998 World Cup. I’m content that everything possible was properly checked out at the time.”