Brazilian President Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva, worried at the recent wave of criticism of Ronaldo, has written a
letter of support to the star striker.
Silva, who was on an official visit to Britain, also said he sent a letter to
FIFA president Sepp Blatter demanding harsher punishment for racism in soccer.
"I was offended, as a Brazilian, when I saw Ronaldo being jeered by Real Madrid
fans the other day," Silva said Wednesday during a special edition of his weekly
radio program, Breakfast with the President. "I decided to send this letter to
Ronaldo to say that we still have confidence on him.
"We owe a lot to him for giving Brazil such a good image abroad ... he
represents a lot to the Brazilian youth."
Ronaldo, who helped Brazil win its fifth World Cup title in 2002, has drawn
sharp criticism by Real Madrid fans for his recent form, causing the three-time
FIFA player of the year to say he may leave the perennial Spanish powerhouse
after the season.
"Ronaldo needs to be in peace with himself," Silva said. "Because in Brazil
there won't be a shortage of people cheering for him . . . he's an extraordinary
The president also talked about Ronaldo in a phone conversation with Brazil
coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who was in London to watch Real Madrid's European
Champions League match against Arsenal.
"(Silva) said he's on Ronaldo's side," Parreira told the official government
news service Agencia Brasil. "He continues believing that Ronaldo is a special
player, who can make a difference in the World Cup."
Ronaldo, 29, is set to start for Brazil as the defending champion goes for a
record sixth World Cup title in Germany in June and July.
In his letter to Blatter, Silva said FIFA must take drastic measures to
eradicate racism from soccer, particularly fan harrassment of players.
"I've been seeing a lot of (racism) in European matches," Silva said. "I've seen
it against Roberto Carlos and against (Samuel) Eto'o . . . The clubs need to be
Silva said he sent the letter to Blatter not only as a president, but also as a
"Prejudice is a disease, and we need to deal with it severely," he said.