Eighty years, 18 World Cups, a million memories
Celso de Campos Jr
Nobody really knows what happened with Ronaldo before the 1998 World Cup final. But that hasn’t stopped the wild speculation, from conspiracy theorists to shock-jocks, politicians and team-mates…
Edmundo’s sponsor allegationsEdmundo, who was on the team sheet before Ronaldo’s return to the line-up, claimed to have witnessed his fellow striker’s ‘fit’ after a cry for help from Roberto Carlos. After this, he claims, Ronaldo took a nap before being whisked off to hospital for tests.
Benched, ‘The Animal’ later suggested that Nike influenced Ronaldo’s return to the team. “Nike’s people were there 24 hours a day, as if they were member of the technical staff. It’s a huge power. That’s all I can say.”
The mystery medicSome players claim that team doctor Lidio Toledo started weeping when he arrived at Ronaldo’s room. Toledo denies this, claiming Ronaldo was conscious when he reached him, but breathing heavily and with saliva around this mouth.
The player was then allegedly sent to hospital for neurological tests, which everyone thought would rule him out of playing. The tests came back normal and Toledo, another medic, coach Mario Zagallo and a determined Ronaldo decided the between them that he was fit enough to play.
The nervous breakdown theoryOne of Brazil’s main newspapers claimed that Ronaldo had a nervous breakdown during the cup. Folha de S Paulo wrote that Ronaldo was displaying signs of depression a week before the final, smashing a bike against a wall. On the eve of the game, Ronnie had a “nervous crisis”. Toledo entered the room and left crying, but Ronaldo wasn’t medicated because of the risk of doping.
They claim that technical co-ordinator Zico opposed fielding Ronaldo, and that the silent departure of the team from the hotel (as opposed to the usual samba party), and absence of a warm-up, indicated a player feud. One group, allegedly led by Dunga, backed Ronaldo’s presence, while another, said to be led by Leonardo, opposed it.
The FIFA conspiracyNow for the really barmy theories: an e-mail allegedly written by a source at TV Globo states that Brazil “sold” the World Cup to FIFA for a cash fee of $23million.
The idea was to let France win to please new FIFA present Sepp Blatter, and help the French people forget their social problems. FIFA then promised Brazil that the Selecao would have its path “softened” to win the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, and that Brazil would host a World Cup in the next decade. Hang on a minute...
The fateful injectionA few years after the fiasco, motor-mouthed pundit Jorge Kajuru put forward another theory: Ronaldo had freaked out after having an allergic reaction to an injection to his knee from doctor Toledo. People who believed Kajuru at the time wouldn’t admit it: after all, the crackpot pundit regularly rants on TV about people “taking it up the *rse”. Crikey.
The sex scandalAccording to rock-solid sources (street corner whispers, pub hearsay, etc) Ronaldo’s breakdown was prompted by an affair between his then girlfriend at the time, Susana Werner – now the wife of Selecao keeper Julio Cesar – and a Brazilian TV journalist.
The Nike ultimatumIn 2000, a Parliamentary Inquiry Commission was set up to investigate the contract between the Brazilian FA and Nike. One of the initial areas of investigation was to be the influence of the Oregon giant on Ronaldo’s final appearance. But the whole matter was fudged. One politician blandly asked Ronaldo who was responsible for marking Zidane. “Will it really help?” replied the striker. The commission closed without finding any answers.
from World Cup Wonderland
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What happened? He choked! End of story, Barthez stopped everything he could muster, leave it to the Brazilians to look for conspiracies where there really aren't any... if he took to the field and could walk --- he was fit, period.
i agree with Yorugua, ronaldo was just scared there was 2 much pressure 4 him in the final. plain and simple most brazlian players were horrible untill denilson came in 20 before time. i think ronlado freak out playing in the final and rest of the squad should have trained without him and played the final wothout him. i wish romario cam with the team he would have played with bebeto in the team in front and won
He choked? The man was the deadliest striker in the world up til that point. He was scoring goals against the strongest opposition and having fun while doing it. Are you telling me he was scared and choked against a relatively unknown French team? It would be one thing if he tried hard and got beat but he was obviously not into the game from the kick off. He was walking around dazed the whole game. He has proved doubters wrong time and again coming back from injury and scoring goals at will. I highly doubt he choked against France.
One theorty I read about was related to him being up all night playing video games. In some stories this just caused fatigue, in other stories it caused more significant nerv-related challenges.
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