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 May 10, 2002 | 1053 IST

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Romario baffled by Brazil World Cup omission

Brian Homewood

Veteran striker Romario says he cannot understand why he has been left out of Brazil's World Cup squad and believes his reputation for being indisciplined is undeserved.

Breaking his silence for the first time since Brazil's squad was announced on Monday, Romario said on Thursday he could not accept the explanation offered by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari that his absence from last year's Copa America was to blame.

"I can't believe that not going to the Copa America has stopped me from going to the World Cup," said Romario, a member of the team which won Brazil's fourth world title eight years ago and who had been dreaming of a swansong at the age of 36.

"Other players didn't go to the Copa and were picked again," added the diminutive striker, whose absence from the team has become a national talking point.

Romario said: "I don't need tears or words to convince anyone. I am who I am. I just want to say that I'm not indisciplined. I'm a normal player and I adapt to any group. You just have to look at my history in the national team.

"It would be better if I were there, but I'm going to get on with my life. My conscience is clear, I'm going to get on with my business here and I hope he (Scolari) does the same there."

"Now, I'm going to look for strength with my parents, my wife, my children and my friends."

Scolari said this week that Romario's failure to travel to Colombia for last year's Copa had a big influence in his omission from the World Cup squad.

Brazilian media have long claimed that Scolari was enraged after Romario asked to be left out of the Copa squad to have an eye operation, only to go on tour to Mexico with his club Vasco da Gama and postpone the surgery.

Romario, however, said he thought there were other reasons for his omission.

"The real reason for me not being picked will appear one day," he told reporters during practice with Vasco da Gama.

"But as he (Scolari) says, I am no use technically or tactically in his concept. He's made his choice.


"I think one day this will hurt some people's consciences. They know I could be in the group but I'm not, for a reason which I don't know."

"I consider myself a player who is good enough to be in the group which is going, but the coach doesn't. I did everything to be in good shape, physically and technically."

Romario said he did not believe he had a chance of being a last-minute replacement if another player became injured.

"I don't think that's likely because it would be incoherent on his part. I think it's over as far as I'm concerned."

Romario played in Scolari's first game as coach, when he captained the team in a 1-0 defeat by Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier, but has not been picked since despite averaging more than one goal a game in club soccer this year.

Brazil have been greeted with chants of "Romario, Romario" during home matches this year but not that, nor a tearful outburst by the striker during an interview last month, was enough to persuade Scolari to change his mind.

Romario, who makes no secret of his aversion to training nor for his love of nightlife, said that at least he would be able to maintain his lifestyle rather than be subjected to Scolari's rigid rulebook.

Asked if he would watch Brazil's games, which will be played either in the middle of the night or the crack of dawn local time, he said: "I think it's going to be difficult for the games which start at 3 o'clock in the morning.

"But I should see the games which are shown at six o'clock as I'll be arriving home at that time."

Brazil have been drawn in group C for the World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan which start at the end of the month, alongside Turkey, China and Costa Rica.

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