Football: Riot angers Ronaldo

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The Independent Online
RONALDO YESTERDAY hinted he might consider leaving Internazionale if the club's angry fans repeat attacks against him and other players. The Brazilian said that he accepted being heckled after last Sunday's 3-1 home defeat by Udinese but that the violence which followed in Milan was intolerable.

Ronaldo's car was hit by a bottle as he was leaving the San Siro Stadium. His parents, sister and nephew were also in the car but no-one was hurt. "I can accept the whistles, they may have even been justified on that occasion... since I and the whole team played horribly against Udinese. But what really hurt was the attempted assault as I was leaving the stadium," he told the Gazzetta dello Sport. "In this climate of tension and fear, somebody could decide to leave Inter."

Internazionale issued a statement deploring the fans who threw stones and bottles at players' cars. "Violence... is absolutely unacceptable. The club points out that a few hooligans fortunately are not representative in any way of Inter fans as a whole. We share and understand Ronaldo's bitterness. He, as captain and leader, represents the starting point for Inter's future," the club said.

Ronaldo was speaking from Spain, where he is set to play for Brazil against his old club Barcelona tonight. It will be his first appearance for his country since Brazil lost the World Cup final to France last summer.

Ronaldo said that he had not yet thought of leaving Internazionale but added: "The future is something that is planned day by day, experience after experience. And every good intention must always be confirmed by the facts."

Meanwhile, Ronaldo remains the highest-paid player in the world, according to a survey by France Football magazine. The World Footballer of the Year in 1996 and 1997 will earn about 55 million francs (pounds 5.52m) this season, the publication said. This includes a monthly wage of Fr2m, plus a Fr1m bonus and Fr30m francs in advertising revenues.

The Manchester United midfielder David Beckham is second in the standings with Fr29m (pounds 2.9m) just ahead of the French playmaker Zinedine Zidane (Fr28.5m) and the Italian striker Christian Vieri (Fr27m).

The only player in the top 10 list to have missed the World Cup is the PFA player of the year, David Ginola, who is ranked sixth with Fr13m (pounds 1.3m).