Soccer legend Ronaldinho Gaucho is in Israel for a friendly game pitting him and other former Brazilian stars against former Israeli soccer stars.
And he has let everyone know he is here, with Israeli flag and all.
Naturally, the haters are not happy, tweeting back at him mostly flags of a non-existent palestinian state.
But I believe they are pissing up wind. Ronaldinho is clearly a fan of Israel and does not pretend to be “even-handed” to placate anyone.
The Brazilian soccer idol Ronaldinho has launched a soccer school in Israel aimed at both native-born and immigrant children and youths.
Ronaldinho, who spent last week in the Jewish state, announced Thursday the establishment of the Ronaldinho Soccer Academy for children aged 6 to 16.
“I am very excited to help Israeli children of all faiths raise their game to the highest levels,” Ronaldinho said at a news conference. “I see the school as a first-class educational tool that helps in acquiring skills, tools for life, discipline, teamwork and more. Israel has a tremendous potential, countless talents and a great love for the game.”
The Christian athlete recently affiliated himself with an evangelical political party in Brazil, so opening a school in the Holy Land is a special excitement.
The project was established in cooperation with the Beitar Nordia Jerusalem soccer team along with local partners.
“Our mission is to bring new values to Israeli children and make the sports they are passionate about collaborate in their upbringing, promoting well-being, health, compliance and social engagement,” Mauro Rozenszajn, the Brazilian-born CEO of the new academy, told JTA. “Teachers will be cordial and patient educators.”
Ronaldinho, 38, had a full agenda while in Israel. The former soccer star visited the Beitar Nordia facilities, participated in a match with Israeli players, and visited Raanana, the city with the largest Brazilian community in the country, where he broadcast a table soccer game on Instagram.
“Soccer is the most aggregating activity in the world,” Rozenszajn said. “Israel has many children coming from abroad. We want to bring joy to these children and their parents, and help them have a ‘klita kala,’ an easy integration.”
Let the haters cry foul all they like.