Romário – O Baixinho the Politician

Romário – O Baixinho the Politician

Romário de Souza Farias is one of the greatest names in football history. After his retirement in 2007 he played several games for his father’s favourite club, America from Rio de Janeiro in 2009. In the same year Romário announced his entry into politics and his intentions to focus on people with disabilities, children and sports. The entry of a football player into politics is often seen with negativity in Brazil. The voting system allows parties to win a large number of seats on the back of a single famous name. This system is an advantage for smaller parties that take advantage of this system, which was the case with Romário. The population of Rio de Janeiro elected Romário in 2009 as the most voted Federal Deputy to represent them in the National Assembly. As a result his party was able to gain an important foothold in one of Brazil’s most important constituencies. O baixinho, as Romário is known in Brazil, impressed an entire generation with his set of football skills. But Romário was also often involved in controversies during his playing career, such as his exclusion from the 2002 World Cup Squad or his countless disputes with teammates. When he was elected as Deputy for the national assembly, many therefore suspected that he would become just another corrupt politician. Brazil has a track record of political corruption, as the Lava Jato scandal has highlighted. These scandals have led to an environment where the population looks to politicians with scepticism; which was initially the case with Romário’s new career path. Romário, however, managed to stay out of the corruption scandals that have plagued Brazil since 2009, and even managed to uncover some of the corrupt practices in his country. For example, he criticized the stance of his former teammate Ronaldo during the preparation of the World Cup, and the corrupt practices that accompanied the staging of the tournament. The feud between the two started after Ronaldo stated: “you don’t make a World Cup with Hospitals and Education” after he was asked about the demands of the population. The Brazilian population at that time was already unhappy with the investments made by the Brazilian Government and were demanding changes and more investment in health and education. Romário then made international news in 2013 when he openly criticised FIFA and CBF for their organization of the World Cup. His honest words as well as his open confrontation with FIFA, the CBF, and Ronaldo have helped Romário to establish an image as an honest and incorruptible politician in Brazil, which helped him to win a seat in the Brazilian Senate representing the state of Rio de Janeiro in 2014. Romário’s biggest contribution, however, is his fight to gain more rights for people with disabilities. The game changer for Romário’s life, as stated in an article he wrote for BrasilPost, was when his daughter Ivy was born with Down Syndrome in 2005. Romário realised the limitations that individuals with disabilities, and their families, faced in the Brazilian education system. This year when Romário took charge in the Senate, other former footballers also entered office; such as Mario Jardel and Danrley in Rio Grande do Sul. Time will tell whether they can follow the shining example of Romário’s political career or if they will get lost in Brazil’s corrupt political jungle. By Thomas Farines -

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Romário de Souza Farias is one of the greatest names in football history. After his retirement in 2007 he played several games for his father’s favourite club, America from Rio de Janeiro in 2009. In the same year Romário announced his entry into politics and his intentions to focus on people with disabilities, children and sports.

The entry of a football player into politics is often seen with negativity in Brazil. The voting system allows parties to win a large number of seats on the back of a single famous name. This system is an advantage for smaller parties that take advantage of this system, which was the case with Romário. The population of Rio de Janeiro elected Romário in 2009 as the most voted Federal Deputy to represent them in the National Assembly. As a result his party was able to gain an important foothold in one of Brazil’s most important constituencies.

O baixinho, as Romário is known in Brazil, impressed an entire generation with his set of football skills. But Romário was also often involved in controversies during his playing career, such as his exclusion from the 2002 World Cup Squad or his countless disputes with teammates.

When he was elected as Deputy for the national assembly, many therefore suspected that he would become just another corrupt politician. Brazil has a track record of political corruption, as the Lava Jato scandal has highlighted. These scandals have led to an environment where the population looks to politicians with scepticism; which was initially the case with Romário’s new career path.

Romário, however, managed to stay out of the corruption scandals that have plagued Brazil since 2009, and even managed to uncover some of the corrupt practices in his country. For example, he criticized the stance of his former teammate Ronaldo during the preparation of the World Cup, and the corrupt practices that accompanied the staging of the tournament.

The feud between the two started after Ronaldo stated: “you don’t make a World Cup with Hospitals and Education” after he was asked about the demands of the population. The Brazilian population at that time was already unhappy with the investments made by the Brazilian Government and were demanding changes and more investment in health and education.

Romário then made international news in 2013 when he openly criticised FIFA and CBF for their organization of the World Cup. His honest words as well as his open confrontation with FIFA, the CBF, and Ronaldo have helped Romário to establish an image as an honest and incorruptible politician in Brazil, which helped him to win a seat in the Brazilian Senate representing the state of Rio de Janeiro in 2014.

Romário’s biggest contribution, however, is his fight to gain more rights for people with disabilities. The game changer for Romário’s life, as stated in an article he wrote for BrasilPost, was when his daughter Ivy was born with Down Syndrome in 2005. Romário realised the limitations that individuals with disabilities, and their families, faced in the Brazilian education system.

This year when Romário took charge in the Senate, other former footballers also entered office; such as Mario Jardel and Danrley in Rio Grande do Sul. Time will tell whether they can follow the shining example of Romário’s political career or if they will get lost in Brazil’s corrupt political jungle.

By Thomas Farines – 

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