Ronaldo strikes out over World Cup delays

26 May 2014 06:31

Brazilian football legend Ronaldo, a member of the World Cup organizing committee, has blamed the government for delays in preparations and backed an opposition candidate in this year's presidential election.

Ronaldo told financial daily Valor he had a "very good relationship" with Socialist President Dilma Rousseff, but sharply criticized the sluggish preparations for the World Cup, which starts June 12.

"What is really a shame for our people are the delays in infrastructure works, airports, urban mobility projects," said the former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid star in comments published Monday.

"We shall have little of the World Cup legacy which we ought to have had, compared to what was forecast."

Numerous infrastructure improvements promised when Brazil won the right to host the World Cup seven years ago have failed to materialize.

That fact, allied to a World Cup bill soaring past $11 billion, has infuriated many Brazilians who have castigated the government for, in their view, getting the country's priorities wrong.

"This is what people should understand: it is down to governments. The governments they themselves elected. It has nothing to do with football or the World Cup," said Ronaldo, whose goals won Brazil the 2002 World Cup.

Ronaldo -- whose full name is Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima -- said he had "no intention of entering politics" himself but would back Social Democratic candidate Aecio Neves, who is trying to unseat Rousseff in elections this October.

"We have always had a very strong friendship and now I am going to back him (Neves). He is my friend and has been for 15 years," said Ronaldo, 37.

"I have confidence in him and think he is a very good choice for bringing about change for our country," he said of Neves, an economist and former state governor of Minas Gerais.

On May Day, Ronaldo had published a picture on social media showing him with his "great friend and future president of Brazil Aecio Neves."

Ronaldo told Valor the insecurity he saw across Brazil currently put him off making investments in his homeland.

"I intended to invest in Brazil this year but now I shall not. This insecurity which we experience, the instability, the revolt, the hatred of the people. The government must reassure the population and the business world. But they are not doing so."

Source: AFP