Football: Around THe World: Ronaldo thinking of home

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The Independent Online

RONALDO WANTS to return home when he finishes playing for his Italian club, Internazionale, the ian World Cup striker said in Barcelona last night.

"When I finish my contract with Inter I will return to because I have already played five years in Europe," Ronaldo said. He was in Barcelona for the presentation of the Fifa World Player of The Year award, an accolade he won in 1996 and 1997.

Ronaldo has a five-year contract with Inter, which ends in 2002. He previously played a season in Spain for Barcelona and before that had two campaigns with the Dutch club, PSV Eindhoven.

The boy from Rio's slums has found homesickness a problem during his time in Europe. He was frequently criticised during his spell at Barcelona for regular trips back to , most notably for the Rio carnival, returning jet-lagged and unable to give his best in subsequent games.

This season Ronaldo has also struggled with injuries, particularly to his knees. "I suffered a little after the World Cup and I'm still suffering but I think I will return to playing like I did before," he said.

Ronaldo will be back in the Catalan capital later this year - but it may be against his wishes. Barcelona are due to face in their Nou Camp stadium on 28 April 28 part of their centenary celebrations.

While Barcelona are highly delighted to be playing the match, will play it after being pressured to do so by their sponsors, Nike. The American sportswear company are also the sponsors of Barcelona.

's coach, Wanderley Luxemburgo, sounded less than enthusiastic about the game last week. "I don't like playing against club sides, but this match was imposed upon us by Nike," he said.

It is not the first time that Nike's relationship with has caused waves. There was widespread speculation last July that the company had put pressure on the ian team management to play an unwell Ronaldo in the World Cup final against France, but the allegation was strongly denied by Nike officials.


FOURTEEN PLAYERS were sent off in eight games on Sunday in some stormy Mexican League action.

Five players, including the Mexican international Luis Hernandez, were dismissed as UNL, better known as Tigres, beat eight-man Morelia 3-2 away from home.


THE CANNES goalkeeper, Sebastien Chabbert, was under observation in hospital yesterday after being struck on the head by a missile thrown from the crowd during Saturday's French Second Division derby game with Nice.

The match was abandoned with Nice winning 1-0 after Chabbert was felled by the object hurled from the visitors' section full of Nice fans. As he lay on the ground clutching his head a firework exploded next to him. He suffered concussion and loss of memory.

Missiles thrown on to the pitch included two pairs of scissors, iron bars, stones, fireworks, two mobile telephones and a solid lead ball used in the game of petanque.