The 1994 World Cup-winning striker, now a congressman, is cautiously pleased to see that old team-mate and successor Ronaldo has been installed as formal organising committee president even if Ricardo Teixeira remains the power behind every throne.
But Romario has warned that the challenge facing the country is far beyond Ronaldo’s remit.
After keeping his silence over the holiday, Romario jumped back on to centre stage by warning that Brazil is risking becoming “the biggest embarrassment in World Cup history.”
He said: “We are coming up short in every department in preparing for the World Cup finals. We have problems with the stadia, with the airports and with urban and suburban transportation. We are not even using the World Cup to provide a long-term legacy for health care, for the education system, for accessibility for the disabled.
“We are behind 100 per cent and we do not have the sort of authorities and administration with the competence to make a difference. Some things will be just about ready enough in time but the greatest problems, as I mentioned, are the most important sectors: airports, hotel chains and urban mobility. Traffic is a mess everywhere.”
Romario did not spare world federation FIFA from his criticism, either. He has made no secret of his objection to what he considers the dictatorial methods of a non-Brazilian authority trying to set up “a football state within a state.”
He said: “I do not agree many any of the main demands from FIFA. Among them are a total lack of respect of our laws on ticket prices and lack of respect to the rights of fans, the elderly and young people.
“FIFA wants to take executive power in a country where it has no business of its own. It wants to take our profits without paying our taxes. Now that the vote on the World Cup Law has been delayed until February, perhaps we can think more clearly about these things.”
As far as other issues are concerned Romario is as resolute as ever in his demand that Teixeira – currently on leave of absence on health grounds – give up all his football posts.
Romario said: “I am aware that he has not been proved guilty of anything but there is so much pressure that, if for no other reason, it would be proper that he steps down while he tries to clear his name.”
By Keir Radnedge