I don’t follow any particular team in São Paulo but I have always admired Corinthians, thanks largely to their supporters.
I lost a bit of that respect last week and not because a few fans went berserk and destroyed players’ cars after the team was knocked out of the Libertadores at the preliminary stage to unknown Colombian side Tolima.
Instead, I wondered what it took them so long to vent their frustrations.
The fans last week focused their ire on Ronaldo. Ronaldo is slow, overweight and a shadow of the player he once was. He was woeful in last Wednesday’s 2-0 reverse.
But Ronaldo has been taking the mickey out of Corinthians for the best part of a year now and Corinthians fans said nothing. They even voted him one of the club’s all time great players last year, which was a cringe worthy exercise in sycophancy.
Ronaldo has played just 69 times for Corinthians over the last two years, and he did not play the whole 90 minutes in the vast majority of them. He appeared in just 11 of Corinthians 38 Brazilian league matches last year.
In contrast, Roberto Carlos, who has been on the club’s books a year less than Ronaldo, has played almost the same number of games and impressed with his professionalism and willingness to buckle down and play for the jersey.
Why has Ronaldo played so little? Why is he still so overweight? And why isn’t the club demanding more of him?
Corinthians President Andres Sanchez is an astute man and said “Ronaldo wasn’t signed to play football.” Indeed, Ronaldo still brings in money to the club through his sponsorship deals.
His old injuries no doubt go some way to explaining his inactivity. But his lack of professionalism and commitment is perhaps a larger reason. He’s frequently photographed in nightclubs and on beaches and his rotund photo appears more in the news because of his celebrity friends than for his goals or dribbles. Corinthians fans deserve more and Ronaldo should be ashamed at his behaviour.
Football players are human and we all make mistakes. But there’s no excuse for not dedicating yourself 100 % to the job, especially when you are being paid fortunes to do so.
With Corinthians out the Libertadores, Ronaldo has nothing to play for now. His retirement, originally scheduled for the end of the year, will likely come sooner. Corinthians fans should demand it. Better late than never.