This day in history of Ronaldo
COUNTRIES may bend over backwards to bring Brazil to their shores but the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) refused to play ball when its Brazilian counterpart tried to bring forward the kick-off by half an hour for the friendly at Lansdowne Road tomorrow night. No dice: 7.30pm it was and 7.30 it was staying.
The FAI had already paid €600,000 (about £406,000) to entice the world champions to Dublin and handed over the television rights for showing back home in South America, but it balked at the suggested kick-off switch. Apparently, 7.30 clashed with the screening of Brazil’s biggest soap opera, the equivalent of Coronation Street.
However, tickets had already been printed for one of the most glamorous sporting events to be held in Ireland for years and the FAI dug in its heels. The Brazilians backed down, changing their coverage from terrestrial to pay-per-view, and everyone was happy, especially soap fans in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Although the FAI may only break even on the match tomorrow, it should gross about €3.75 million (about £2.5 million) from the visits of Brazil, the Czech Republic next month and Romania in May. Fran Rooney has not been everyone’s pint of Guinness since he took over as FAI chief executive last year, but he had the foresight to link the three matches as a triple-header.
Fans who wanted tickets for Brazil had to buy them for the Czech Republic and Romania games as well, and such was the demand to see Ronaldo and Co, the fixtures were sold out within 15 minutes. The clamour even outranked the interest in the Britney Spears concerts planned for Dublin in the summer. “Brazil are much bigger than Britney,” an FAI spokesman said yesterday.
For Graham Kavanagh, the Ireland and Cardiff City midfield player, tomorrow’s match is an opportunity to witness his dream team at first hand. Ireland last played Brazil in May 1987, when they won 1-0 thanks to a goal by Liam Brady, and a young Kavanagh — who was brought up in Ringsend — near Lansdowne Road, watched.
“It was very exciting for us because Brazil and Argentina were the two big teams of that time,” Kavanagh said. “I went to the game 1½ hours before kick-off just to watch Brazil warming up. To see them at close quarters was absolutely brilliant. I’ll never forget it.”