Brazilian forward, Romario, is one of football’s greatest goalscorers, credited with more than 1,000 goals in his glittering career. Romario who is a World Cup winner with Brazil and Barcelona legend, is now making waves in Brazilian politics.
The former striker, now 52, announced his candidacy for Rio de Janeiro state governor in March 2018. “Our dream is going to happen. Together we can rebuild Rio.
All you have to do is join us.” Romario leads in the polls said. Born in a poor favela in Rio de Janeiro, Romario first was a champion with the ball at his feet – he has now become a champion for people with disabilities and rare diseases.
He has continued to criticise the Brazilian Football Association (CBF) and even FIFA -making the fight against corruption in the sport a key part of his political identity.
Just this month Romario fought to postpone the CBF election, after filing for a cancellation with the Attorney General.
His 11-page document said the election represented “continued manipulation… to the detriment of clubs and players that make up football”.
After a glittering football career that saw him win an Olympic silver medal, league titles in three countries, two Copa Americas and the 1994 World Cup, politics was not an obvious career change but not a surprise one as we now have a formal Ballon dór winner calling the shots in Liberia.
Romario who admitted that it was his youngest daughter Ivy who inspired the change into politics said: “When I stopped being a football player, it’s true that politics didn’t even enter my head,” Romario told the BBC in 2013.
He continued: “Then eight years ago my daughter was born with Down’s Syndrome.
“I started spending time with parents, relatives and friends of people who have some kind of disability. “I began to realise there was no-one to represent these people in politics, so I decided to stand for election.”
Often criticised in his playing career for being lazy in training and unprofessional – as well as living a party boy lifestyle – Romario’s political career has been the polar opposite.
There is a feeling by some in Brazil that his tireless presence in the Brazilian chambers are an act of penance for a career that, although stellar, didn’t quite reach the heights he wanted.
Romario being his controversial self has also declared that the 2018 World Cup was “stolen” from England and sold to Russia as part of a Fifa scandal.
His roaring popularity saw Romario voted into the Brazilian Senate – getting the most votes ever for a candidate from Rio de Janeiro.
In his time as a Senator, Romario helped author legislation that improved the lives of millions of Brazilians living with disability.
He also chaired the Commission of Education, Culture and Sport – leading an investigation into corruption, money-laundering and extortion at the World Cup.
The ex-striker is also hoping to put together a probe into corruption at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Romario left the Socialist Party last summer, becoming President of Podemos, a populist-centrist party.
In March, after considering running for president of the CBF, Romario announced he would run for governor of Rio de Janeiro state.
He could also be joined by former strike partner Bebeto, who has joined Podemos and is considering running for the Senate.
It would interest you to know that Romario is not the only ex footballer doing well, as there is a stand out case of an ex footballer that climbed to the zenith of politics in his country to become President, and that football is George Weah.
The swearing-in ceremony which took place at a stadium on the outskirts of Monrovia was graced by thousand including Nigeria’s former leaders, Olusegun Obasanjo and Abdulsalami Abubakar.