Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo has expressed frustrations at widespread protests that have occurred throughout his home country against its decision to host this year’s World Cup. The star, who played in multiple World Cup tournaments, stated that he supported legitimate protesters but that police should “club” violent rioters.
Ronaldo, speaking at an event sponsored by the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, explained that he believed protests were “always valid,” but when “masked vandals” participated in the protests, it was important for police to properly enforce the law, which, Ronaldo said, means “bring[ing] down the clubs” and “get[ting] them off the street.”
Earlier in the week, Ronaldo extended some sympathy to protesters by noting that “only 30%” of what was promised to Brazilians while the government was still attempting to sell the idea of hosting the World Cup would actually come to fruition. “A series of investments were promised that won’t be delivered,” he explained, elaborating that he felt “shame.”
“My shame is for the people, who were hoping for major investments, that’s the great legacy of the Cup for us. They were expecting a lot and they’re the ones most hurt by the situation,” he stated.
Ronaldo is not the first Brazilian soccer legend to express shame in describing World Cup preparations. Pelé, who has been deeply involved in promoting the event, called preparations an “embarrassment” last week. It is, the star argued, “unacceptable that some stadiums are not ready. We had many years, more than enough time. It is an embarrassment.” Regarding protests, Pelé made a note of distinguishing from government officials organizing the event to the players themselves, asserting that players have nothing to do with “corrupt politicians and thieves.” In addition to promoting the event, Pelé