By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Football (soccer) legend-turned-politician, Romario de Souza Faria, known simply as Romario, wants voters to know that although he can still bring fear to opponents on the pitch, he is now focused on other battles as a gubernatorial candidate for Rio de Janeiro state.
“My first move will be to reduce the number of UPPs (Pacifying Police Units) and place police officers on the street. We take the cop out of the confrontation and put him on the street, where people can see him,” said Romario in an interview earlier this month when asked what his first action would be if he won the October election.
Also on his agenda is the health system. “The health system has been badly stolen from in the last few years; it was the area that suffered the most from corruption, I’m going to review all the contracts, to find out where the money is going to,” said the sports-legend turned candidate.
“The resources exist. All we have to do is stop the pilferage” added the candidate who has fourteen percent of voter intention. Due to a sentence by the Supreme Electoral Court barring former governor Anthony Garotinho from running, Romario is in second place behind former Rio city mayor, Eduardo Paes.
Named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1994 and listed as one of the world’s 100 greatest living players by the entity in 2004, Romario left his cleats at home and in 2014 was elected to the Brazilian Congress.
Rebuffing critics who say he has no experience in public administration, Romario says what he has is more important. “It’s true I have no experience. But I was born in the favela, I used a public hospital, I used public transportation, I went to public school, I stepped on sewage at the door of my house.
“I do not know of the difficulties (of the population) because I read it in a book. I know, because I lived them, I have had the experiences they have,” concluded Romario.