By Doug Gray, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – While the drama of the World Cup grabs all the sporting headlines in Brazil and around the world, Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno will be happy to be kept off the back pages for once as police investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend nearly three weeks ago.
News surfaced earlier this week as Flamengo retired to the interior of São Paulo for training in isolation ahead of their first game back after the World Cup break that Bruno was pulled out of the training camp to meet with police, whilst President Patricia Amorim confirmed that the club would be fully co-operating with the authorities in relation to what is clearly a highly sensitive case.
On the morning of Monday, June 29th, sixty officers visited the goalkeeper’s farm near Belo Horizonte, the city where he grew up and where it is suspected the victim has been buried, returning throughout the week to continue the search.
The 25 year old woman, allegedly the mother of Bruno’s illegitimate child, disappeared on June 4th having been invited to the farmhouse to discuss the four month old child he is said to have fathered. At the end of last week police received an anonymous tip off that she had been killed and buried somewhere in the grounds. Bruno was a key member of the league-winning side last year and has 234 appearances for the club since his arrival in 2006.
The news will have caused further disruption to Flamengo’s preparations for defending their league title, having already lost Adriano to Italian side Roma and failed to secure several other high-profile replacements including Chelsea’s midfielder Deco. More positive news finally came this week in the form of defender David and striker Wagner Love’s appearances at the training session, however, after both had been linked with transfers during the break in the season.
The first game back, which Bruno will now certainly miss, takes on even greater significance being against Flamengo’s opponents in both finals of the State Championship earlier in the year, Botafogo. Having won both matches comfortably and started the 2010 national competition strongly, the Botafogo outfit have also reinforced the squad during the month-long break, though the arrival of a key signing, midfielder Maicosuel, has still to be confirmed from Germany due to paperwork problems.
Over at Fluminense the anticipated departure of Fred to Napoli failed to materialize after he committed his future to the club, confidently stating he had sixty goals in his sights for the year. That means new signing Emerson, destined at one time to be his replacement, merely adds to what is beginning to look like a formidable strike force for the Laranjeiras-based club, whilst Deco has said that it looks like his future could also lie there as he looks certain to return to Brazilian football.
After seven games so far this season the team lie in third place, whilst Botafogo and Flamengo are eighth and ninth respectively. Vasco da Gama have so far struggled in their return to the top flight of Brazilian football and are in nineteenth position, though they too have reason for optimism after the signings of Éder Luis and Fellipe Bastos from Benfica, both experienced players who could help turn the ailing club’s season around.