Three-time FIFA Player
of the Year Ronaldo could be replaced on the Brazilian national team if
he refuses to play in the Confederations Cup.
Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said Friday that all Brazilian players
must be willing to make personal sacrifices if they want to play in the
2006 World Cup in Germany. Otherwise, he'll find someone else.
``No one is irreplaceable,'' Parreira said Friday.
The warning was seen as a response to Ronaldo, who complained this week
that he wants to rest this summer instead of playing in the
Confederations Cup on June 15-29 in Germany.
``It would be very prejudicial to me,'' the Real Madrid striker said in
an interview Wednesday with the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.
``There will be a World Cup next year. That means I'll be without
vacation for two years.''
But the argument doesn't sway Parreira.
``I don't accept 'rest' as an excuse,'' he said. ``If you want to be
world champion, you have to go through all this sacrifice.''
Parreira knows what it takes to win a World Cup. In 1994, he coached
Brazil to its fourth Cup title, the first since the Pele era ended in
The 1994 squad also featured Ronaldo, a 17-year-old phenom making his
World Cup debut. Ronaldo went on to star for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven,
Italy's Internazionale and Spain's Real Madrid, and was the World Cup's
high scorer when Brazil won its fifth title in Japan in 2002.
But he also needed two operations for a serious knee injury that
sidelined him for nearly two years. Many Brazilians thought his career
was over until his triumphant return at the '02 Cup.
The 28-year-old striker thinks he's entitled to a summer vacation after
the Spanish league season, which is played in the winter. And he's not
the only Brazilian player looking for time off.
Inter Milan striker Adriano reportedly asked to be released from the
Confederations Cup, and striker Ricardo Oliveira of Spain's Betis could
be tied up in tournament play until the eve of the Cup.
Some players think Ronaldo deserves a rest.
``Ronaldo had a demanding season and needs to rest so he doesn't run the
risk of injury,'' teammate Roberto Carlos said in an interview with the
Rio daily o Globo on Friday. ``I'll try to talk to Parreira ... to give
him a rest.''
Unlike Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and team captain Cafu weren't called for
the Confederations Cup. Parreira said it wasn't a question of favoritism,
but a search for eventual replacements for the aging wingers.
``Nobody asked for anything,'' he said. ``We decided to take advantage
of the Confederations Cup to observe in competition two players we have
to decide on for the World Cup. It was a technical and tactical decision.
It has nothing to do with what a player wants.''
Brazilian soccer officials don't want to repeat the disastrous showing
in the 2003 Confederations Cup, when Brazil fielded a mixed squad and
was eliminated in the first round. And Parreira says it's simply one
more hurdle on the long road to the World Cup.
``It would be great to want to play just in the World Cup. I'd like to
be national team coach just for the World Cup,'' Parreira said. ``We
wouldn't have to go through these friendly games, or the Cup qualifiers.
It's really grueling.''
Brazil is in second place in the South American qualifying race for a
spot in the '06 Cup. The top four teams qualify for Germany, and the
fifth-place team faces the Oceania champion for another spot.
Parreira said he understands Ronaldo's physical and emotional condition,
following a messy separation from Brazilian TV announcer Daniela
Cicarelli. But that doesn't excuse him from the team.
``We're human, we understand. Ronaldo is coming off a series of personal
situations, but 'rest' is not an excuse,'' he said. ``If you want to
play, fine. If you don't, stay home.