Posted: Wednesday February 8, 2012 5:27 PM

Flamengo ends partnership, could lose Ronaldinho

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SAO PAULO (AP) -Flamengo could end up losing Ronaldinho after Brazil's most popular club ended its partnership with sports marketing group Traffic.

Traffic has been paying the majority of Ronaldinho's salary, and Flamengo will now have to find ways to come up with the nearly $700,000 that the player reportedly receives.

Team president Patricia Amorim said Wednesday that she is confident Flamengo will still be able to pay Ronaldinho, but acknowledges the club will have to increase its revenue.

She says Flamengo will inherit the rights to Ronaldinho's image and that should allow the club to make some extra money.

Ronaldinho's wages were delayed for several months last year.

The club and Traffic had been trying to reach a new agreement on a contract involving the rights to explore the player's image for quite some time. Both sides are blaming each other for the split.

Traffic said it was not given priority to negotiate deals with sponsors that could increase the team's revenue, while Flamengo said the marketing group was responsible for delaying the wages of the two-time FIFA player of the year.

Traffic director Fernando Goncalves told local media that the sports marketing group admits it owes money to Ronaldinho, but said Flamengo owes it the right to negotiate the team's sponsor.

Traffic was reportedly upset that Flamengo made a deal with the sports marketing firm "9ine,'' which was founded by former Brazil star Ronaldo.

"The issue with Traffic will be resolved by the courts,'' Amorim said. "Now it's a matter for our lawyers.''

Traffic also hinted that it will sue the club.

Last week, Ronaldinho threatened not to play if he wasn't paid the nearly 3.75 million reals ($2.1 million) that was reportedly owed to him. Ronaldinho's agent and brother, Roberto Assis Moreira, said many teams in and outside Brazil are interested in signing the 31-year-old former Barcelona star if he was not paid.

Ronaldinho became one of the most high-profile acquisitions by a Brazilian club when he joined Flamengo at the beginning of last year. He struggled in his first few months and was jeered by fans and heavily criticized by the local media.

But Ronaldinho bounced back and was instrumental in Flamengo's title in the Rio de Janeiro state championship in 2011. He then helped Flamengo earn a spot at this year's Copa Libertadores, and also regained a spot in the national team.

Ronaldinho helped Brazil win the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, but was in the team that was eliminated by France in the quarterfinals of the 2006 tournament in Germany. He was not picked for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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