SAO PAULO (AP) — Romario and Ronaldo are at odds over the World Cup in Brazil, criticizing each other's conflicting comments about what the tournament means to the country's population.
Ronaldo, a member of the local organizing committee, says the World Cup brings nothing but benefits to the Brazilian people. Romario, an outspoken congressman, complains about the misuse of public funds with the tournament as an excuse.
The former Brazil greats and World Cup champions didn't hold back when given a chance to attack each other off the field.
"It's easy to be the opposition and just attack everyone," Ronaldo said this week when asked about Romario's ongoing criticism of the World Cup.
Romario took to Twitter late Wednesday to respond, attacking his former teammate for being part of the "corrupt entities" of FIFA and the local organizing committee.
Ronaldo also accused Romario of lack of patriotism because of his repeated attacks on the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950.
"I don't want everyone to think the way I do or for everyone to believe in everything that I believe in, but when I was invited to be part of the committee I believed that the World Cup would be a great opportunity for Brazil to grow with all the investments that the tournament would attract. I believed in this and I did this for my country."
Romario has been attacking World Cup organizers and Brazilian authorities since he took office as congressman in 2010, loudly criticizing FIFA's influence in Brazil and the costs of hosting the tournament. In a recent congressional hearing, Romario called FIFA President Sepp Blatter "a thief" and secretary general Jerome Valcke "a blackmailer."
"I'm not against the World Cup," Romario posted. "I'm against the excessive costs of this tournament. I've said before that Brazil is wasting an opportunity to become a better country."
Romario said FIFA and local organizers will profit significantly from the World Cup while the Brazilian people will not gain nearly as much by hosting football's showcase event. He has always made it clear that he is not fond of Ronaldo's decision to join the local organizing committee.
"I'm not part of these corrupt and unscrupulous entities," Romario said. "I don't receive any money from FIFA."
In his remarks, Ronaldo reiterated that he is a volunteer on the organizing committee and is not receiving payments for his work. Former Brazil striker Bebeto is also a member of the local committee.
Romario also attacked Ronaldo by mentioning again the former striker's 2011 comments that "you can't host a World Cup by building hospitals," which received a lot of criticism at the time.
"I don't think the World Cup is organized just with stadiums," Romario said on Twitter.
Romario added he doesn't "rent an apartment ... for this entity full of corrupts," but didn't elaborate.
Romario has also been at odds with Pele in the past, even calling the football great ignorant.
The former Barcelona star led Brazil to the World Cup title in 1994, when Ronaldo was a young reserve in the squad. Ronaldo played in three other World Cups after that, winning the title in 2002 and becoming the tournament's leading scorer with 15 goals.
Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni