Romario launches another scathing attack against FIFA

AP, SAO PAULO, Brazil

Fri, Oct 18, 2013 - Page 19

Brazilian congressman and former soccer great Romario has launched another attack against FIFA, calling president Sepp Blatter “a thief” and secretary-general Jerome Valcke “a blackmailer.”

The comments from the former Brazil striker came at a congressional hearing promoted by a tourism and sports commission on Tuesday.

He continued his attack against Valcke with a post published on his Web site on Wednesday, saying the FIFA official is not the “best person to do business” with Brazil ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Romario also criticized the Brazilian soccer confederation, saying it is “corrupt.”

They were some of the harshest words yet used by Romario, who has been loudly criticizing FIFA and local soccer officials since he took office in 2010.

‘THIEF’

“We can’t expect anything from FIFA, where we have a blackmailer called Valcke and a thief called Blatter,” Romario said while replying to a comment from a colleague who said FIFA should do more to make sure the World Cup will leave a legacy for Brazil.

“They really don’t represent world soccer, much less Brazilian soccer,” he said.

Romario said it is his role as a legislator to protect Brazil’s interests and make sure the people know more about the FIFA representative negotiating World Cup deals in Brazil.

“Brazilian authorities shouldn’t trust [Valcke] when signing any deal related to the World Cup,” Romario said. “It is with lack of trust that I see his presence in Brazil negotiating with the money of the Brazilian people. Rest assured that I’ll always keep an eye on what is being spent on the World Cup with public funds.”

DECENCY

Romario said he published the post in response to Valcke’s claim that the former Brazilian great has many times overstepped the boundaries of decency in his attacks. In an interview with Rio’s Extra on Sunday, Valcke said Romario is “anti-FIFA, anti-Jerome Valcke, anti-everything.”

He said Romario talks about him and Blatter as the “worst people in the world,” and does not expect to have a dialogue with the former striker in the run up to the World Cup.

“FIFA is open to talk to anyone, but I’m not going to go to Romario to ask him to speak with me,” Valcke was quoted as saying. “He has said so many negative things about me, I don’t see why I would go see him.”

FIFA said it will not comment about Romario’s remarks.

For a long time Romario has been outspoken against FIFA’s influence in Brazil and the costs of hosting the World Cup. He has focused his complaints on the secretary general.

“I wouldn’t trust [Valcke] if I had to give him 10 reals [about US$5] to buy me bread and milk,” Romario said in his post.