Kidnappers freed on Friday the mother of
Santos forward Robinho, one of Brazil's most talented young players, 40
days after seizing her at gunpoint while she was attending a barbecue.
Marina de Souza was discovered when she knocked on the door of a house
in the working-class district of Perus on the outskirts of Sao Paulo
after being released from captivity nearby, the residents told Brazilian
Robinho and his mother later appeared on the balcony of her Santos
apartment to applause from onlookers and a chorus of car horns.
"There's nothing better than seeing your mother happy and laughing," the
20-year-old striker told reporters. "I can have a happy Christmas with
my family whether or not we win the title.
"I've had trouble sleeping. You have lunch but you don't know if your
mother's having lunch, when you have dinner, you don't know if she's
Detective Alberto Corazza said Robinho's father Gilson Souza had made
all contacts with the kidnappers.
"(The kidnappers) are certainly experienced, otherwise they wouldn't
have managed to keep her captive for so long," he said.
"The investigation is just beginning because we kept at a distance at
the family's request," added Corazza.
"I still haven't spoken to Robinho's father, so I can't guarantee that a
ransom was paid. But, judging from the way she was released, it's
probable that it was."
Robinho has not played since the kidnapping in the Santos district of
Praia Grande on November 6, although he has been training.
Meanwhile, his agent Wagner Ribeiro has suspended negotiations over a
possible move abroad.
Robinho's trickery has made him a hot property and Real Madrid are
reported to be among the European clubs chasing him.
His mother's release came two days before Santos, the Brazilian
championship leaders, play their decisive last match of the league
season against Vasco da Gama.
Santos lead Atletico Paranaense by one point and need to beat Vasco to
win the title for the second time in three years.
"God has been generous because he has brought Dona Marina home," said
Santos president Marcelo Teixeira.
"It's been traumatic for the players and they've missed Robinho's
happiness and his contagious smile. This is a very happy day for Santos."
De Souza, 43, was abducted by two armed men who jumped over the wall at
a house where the barbecue was being held.
Three days later, Robinho appealed for privacy and the case has since
been kept out of the media.
Her ordeal ended Friday when the kidnappers simply told her to leave the
house where she had been held. She went to hospital for a check up where
a spokesman said that, despite losing four kgs, she was in good
condition and was lucid.
Kidnappings for ransom are rife in crime-plagued Brazil but businessmen
are usually targeted rather than footballers.
Santos coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo said he had not decided whether
Robinho would play Sunday.
"I am very happy that Robinho is once again available for selection,"
said Luxemburgo at the team hotel in Sao Jose do Rio Preto, where Santos
will play Vasco because of a home ban.
Robinho, full name Robson de Souza, last played in the 5-0 win over
Fluminense on October 31 when he scored twice. He is still the team's
joint top scorer with 21 goals alongside fellow striker Deivid.
Robinho shot to prominence two years ago when he helped Santos win the
Brazilian championship for the first time since it began in 1971.
He was even compared to Pele due to a physical resemblance and the fact
that he plays at the same club where the Brazil great spent most of his
career helping Santos win a stream of state championships, the
Libertadores Cup in 1962 and 1963 and the World Club championship in the
In 2003, Robinho was again inspirational as Santos reached the final of
the Libertadores Cup, the South American equivalent of Europe's
He has so far won only two full caps for Brazil.