Posted: 10/4/2012
Title: ROMARIO, SUPERSTAR TURNED POLITICIAN

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      His career lasted a generation and with 18 transfers to clubs in five continents and over 1,000 goals, he became a coach and is now a Congressman and socialist Deputy in Brasilia, capital of Brazil.

      The first time I saw him play was in late 1988 at the FIFA World Club Championship at the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, for PSV Eindhoven v Club Nacional of Montevideo, December 11.. I watched most of the match from up in the press box, and then went down to near the corner flag to take photos for the penalty shoot out after a 2-2 tie. His team lost 7-6. Eight months earlier I had been at the European Cup Final in Neckarstadion, Stuttgart, May 25,  a boring 0-0 affair with Benfica. PSV had 'triumphed' 6-5 on PK's but Romario was still a Vasco da Gama player.

      You may remember that iconic moment when his Brazilian team mate Bebeto had scored his team's 2nd goal against Holland in the 1994 World Cup quarter-final in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Two days earlier Bebeto's third child Matheus had been born(named after Lothar), and he raced to the bench and performed the rocking the cradle routine to be joined by Romario and Mazinho. That boy is now 18 years old, and this February Matheus made his first team debut for Flamengo v Olaria in a 0-0 tie at the Engenhao Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. An attacking midfielder, he had already played for Brazil's youth team.  Bebito had once coached for club general manager Romario at  America and been fired after only 8 matches in early 2010.

      At the 1994 World Cup, Romario and Bebeto had been nicknamed 'Lethal Weapon l and ll', and their feud had threatened to destroy their nations chances of winning the World Cup after a gap of 24 years. Fierce competitors, Romario had called him Chorav 'cry baby' . "We are very different people. Bebeto is the type that stays at home. I am a street cat." Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, ever the diplomat, got them to work together and score 8 of the team's 10 goals between them, and lift the trophy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

     Romario was FIFA World Player of the Year in 1994, Johan Cruyff called him " A genius of the goal area", Diego Maradona says he was 'An incredible finisher".

     Today he is trying to clean up sport in Brazil, as it gets ready for FIFA World Cup 2014, and Olympics 2016. Already he has helped run Ricardo Teixeira out of town, to a Florida home. "We have removed a cancer from the game". Teixeira and his former father in law Joao Havalenge have been accused of receiving millions in bribes.

      Now he has announced that he wants to see IOC members Patrick Hickey and Carlos Nuzman questioned in Brasilia concerning ticket deals for the Rio Olympics. He first of all questions the re-election of Nuzman to preside over Brazil's Olympic Committee, a position that he has held for the last 17 years, and as he faces no opposition, it looks like another four years. He is friends with Irishman Hickey, and Romario feels that they both have dubious loyalty to Rio de Janeiro. He wants to make sure that Brazilians are able to purchase affordable tickets.

      Hickey is linked to business opportunities in Brazil and elsewhere for his family. His son Stephen Hickey has a London based company that sold expensive ticket and hotel linked packages to wealthy foreigners at London 2012. Tickets supposedly for a number of foreign fans from Ireland, Greece, Malta, and elsewhere, ended up with Stephen Hickey's company, and a London pub was renamed 'Irish Olympic House', flew the Olympic Rings and charged an expensive entrance fee. On the other hand, brands such as McDonalds, Samsung and Coca-Cola had to pay millions for the privilege.

     Look at www.transparencyinsport.org for more information on this and other I.O.C. and FIFA scandals.

      Romario wants to know if either Hickey or Nuzman are linked to bribes allegedly paid to bring the Olympics not only to Rio de Janeiro, but to Nagano, Japan, Salt Lake City USA, and how the 2018 FIFA World Cup was not awarded to England, with the best bid, but BOUGHT by Russia.

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