| Ronaldo with mother Sonia in Germany on Saturday. (AFP)
Koenigstein, June 11: When coach Carlos Alberto Parreira says “this will be the World Cup of health”, some people, including his country’s President, wonder where health ends and obesity begins in the Brazil team.
It’s really all about one member' Ronaldo ' whose body weight has drawn comments even from Brazil President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.
“So is he fat or not'” asked the President at a video conference with the team.
According to Parreira, Ronaldo is simply “forte” (strong), a word Brazilians often use to mean extra kilos.
The coach also thinks the Germans are “forte”, which, however, has nothing to do with weight. Of the teams he has seen so far, the Germans have impressed him the most. “They looked strong, they were well-positioned.”
He believes “physical condition is going to be fundamental. The teams have had more time to prepare than before and you can see this.”
Brazil captain Cafu agreed. Asked if he had seen anything new in the finals, Cafu replied: “I don’t think so, the main thing has been the physical strength of the teams.”
England, meanwhile, seemed to be having some health problems of its own.
England’s Football Association will approach Fifa after match officials in its opener against Paraguay prevented players getting all the water they needed yesterday when the temperature rose to 29 degrees Celsius. “I think we went through 70 litres of water during the game. We normally go through somewhere in the region of 20,” a spokesman said.
He said the England players who lasted 90 minutes had shed “somewhere between five and 10 pounds”.
“Shed” is a word that weighs heavy on Ronaldo. He had missed the video conference with the President but stunned everyone with his response later. “I also would have had many things to ask the President.”
Then Ronaldo left everyone gasping. “Everyone says he drinks heavily. If it’s a lie that I’m fat, it’s also a lie that he drinks.”
The President, about whose penchant for the peg an American journalist has written, has since made peace with Ronaldo.
At this point, however, Brazil suffers from itchy feet ' rather than fat ' as it waits for the first match, against Croatia, on Tuesday.
“I want it to start more than anyone so that we stop talking nonsense and start playing football,” said Ronaldo.