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Tuesday, July 14, 1998 Published at 01:13 GMT 02:13 UK

Sport: Football

Ronaldo rumours rumble on

Ronaldo, left, with his dejected team-mates after Brazil's 3-0 defeat by France

Details have emerged about a convulsive fit suffered by the Brazilian striker, Ronaldo, a few hours before Sunday's World Cup final.

He was taken to hospital and was dropped from the team, only to be reinstated at the last minute.

The incident is being blamed for the Brazilian team's poor performance and the three-nil defeat by France.

In the wake of their World Cup defeat Brazilians have been engaging in a public inquest into their footballing failure.

The greatest mystery had been what happened to star striker Ronaldo, who played in the final despite doubts about his fitness.

Ronaldo: "I woke up after 30 seconds and my whole body was in pain"
He was taken ill a few hours before the game and initially excluded from the team sheet.

It is still not known precisely what was wrong with him, or why he was allowed to play.

Strange fit

Speaking outside the team's base in Lesigny, near Paris, Ronaldo says he suffered a strange fit - something he had never had before - on the day of the match.

Ronaldo said he was lying on his bed after lunch when the fit began. According to the striker, it was like nothing he had ever felt before and at one stage he thought he was going to die.

[ image: Ronaldo speaking to reporters outside Brazil's World Cup camp]
Ronaldo speaking to reporters outside Brazil's World Cup camp
His team-mate Roberto Carlos said Ronaldo suffered the convulsion because he was under great pressure to perform at his best.

The team doctor, Lidio Toledo, says he had to put his hand in the striker's mouth to prevent him from choking on his tongue.

He decided to take him to a clinic, where he says a battery of medical tests showed no serious problems.

The US sports manufacturer Nike, which sponsors Ronaldo and the Brazilian team as a whole, has denied pressuring him into playing.

Felt better by beginning of the match

Ronaldo, 21, says he was feeling better by the beginning of the match and asked to take part.

This is also the version of the team's veteran manager, Mario Zagallo, who says if he had not picked his star player he would have been criticised just as much.

The Brazilian mass-circulation newspaper, O Globo, says the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Ricardo Teixeira, entered the dressing room shortly before the decision to play Ronaldo was taken.

Zagallo apparently bowed to pressure from the team, who feared they could not win the game without Ronaldo, and reinstated the striker in his line-up.

But Ronaldo was clearly not well and had his poorest game of the tournament.

The rest of the team also appeared badly out of sorts and surrendered tamely to the hosts, who ran out 3-0 winners.

The World Cup may be over but the post mortem in Brazil has only just begun.

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