Nike denies forcing Ronaldo onto field
Posted: Monday July 13, 1998 01:21 PM
FIFA officials claim that Ronaldo was cleared by doctors to play before the game (AP)|
ROME (AP) -- Nike on Monday denied putting pressure on Ronaldo or
his coach to have the Brazilian star
play in the World Cup final.
"With regard to rumors circulating about
presumed pressures Nike put on the Brazilian national soccer team so that
Ronaldo would play, Nike wants to emphasize that the report of such
involvement is absolutely false," a statement said.
The statement was
released by the Italian branch of Nike in response to a directive from
company headquarters in the United
States, Nike Italy spokesman
Massimo Giunco said.
Confusion surrounded Ronaldo's status for
Sunday night's final against France.
The two-time FIFA player of the year was not among the 11 starters
initially picked by Brazil coach Mario Zagallo. But his name was reinstated
to the starting team just before the match. Ronaldo was ineffective during
the game as Brazil tumbled to a humiliating 3-0 defeat.
unclear is what happened between the initial lineup decision and the start
of the game.
FIFA, the sport's governng body, said Ronaldo had gone
to the hospital for X-rays on his left ankle, and doctors cleared him to
play just before the game. Team doctor Lidio Toledo said Ronaldo felt dizzy
after lunch, while press officer Nelson Borges said the player had vomited.
There were reports of locker room squabbles as to whether Ronaldo
should be on the field.
"What is true is that last night's game was
the most important moment of Ronaldo's career," the Nike Italy statement
said. "To play the final of a World Cup is the dream of any player, Ronaldo
"Ronaldo and Zagallo decided together to crown this dream
which the Brazilian player -- probably -- deserved to live. In all of this,
Nike did not interfere in any way. And besides, why should it have?"
The 21-year-old striker, who plays his club soccer for Italy's Inter Milan,
was one of the focal points of Nike's World Cup advertising campaign.
The sports shoe company has a 10-year sponsorship deal with the
Brazilian team for a reported $200 million, and in May signed an 11-year
deal with Inter Milan worth at least $125 million.
derisively been called Team Nike, while FIFA has decried the influence
sponsors hold on the sport.
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