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SBD Global/October 18, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Brazilian Footballer Turned Politician Romario Critical Of Spending For 2014 World Cup

Romario, the "World Cup winner who’s now a Brazilian lawmaker," said a proposal by Brazil's football governing body to "penalize teams that default on tax debt is unworkable," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said that Brazil’s government is "discussing the creation of a structure" for the management of football teams after clubs amassed $1.6B in unpaid taxes. Romario said that "the influence of the country’s biggest clubs makes any such penalty unlikely." The CBF also is proposing "points penalties for teams that delay wage payments to players or staff, a regular occurrence" in Brazilian football. Romario, a deputy in Brazil's lower house, said, "Do you really think that the CBF has the moral courage and ability to make Vasco, Flamengo or Corinthians fall because they did not pay the debts? That’s a lie. This won’t happen. This is a utopia and will not exist" (BLOOMBERG, 10/17). The London TELEGRAPH reported Romario has accused FIFA of "robbing the Brazilian people." He described "his country's football federation as a 'disgrace'" and claims FIFA has "no interest in benefiting Brazil in the long term." Romario: "FIFA got what it came for: money. Things like transportation that affect the public after the tournament is over? They don't care. They don't care about what is going to be left behind" (TELEGRAPH, 10/17).

ROMARIO'S NEW CHALLENGE: The EFE reported Romario reiterated his criticism of FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke and the elevated costs of hosting the 2014 World Cup, and also "announced his intention to run for mayor of Rio de Janeiro." Romario: "I have an obligation to show Brazil the real situation with public spending for the World Cup, which is absurd and grows more ridiculous every day." Romario added, "What they say about the spending for the World Cup is a lie. I have to show Brazil the truth. This is one of the biggest robberies in the country's history and we are going to have problems later." Romario called Valcke, "one of his main targets, a blackmailer." Instead of considering "running to become president of the CBF, which Romario said would demand too much time," he is considering running for mayor of Rio de Janeiro in '16. Romario said, "My idea is to be mayor. Next year I have a chance to be re-elected as a deputy and, depending on the situation, I could aspire to the Senate" (EFE, 10/17).
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