SAO PAULO — Ronaldinho's chances of continuing to play football in Brazil have diminished significantly following his high-profile departure from popular club Flamengo.
A day after Ronaldinho terminated his contract and sued the club for unpaid salaries, officials from most of the top Brazilian teams said Friday they don't intend to try to sign the former Brazil star, who played below expectations and was criticized for unprofessional behavior off the field.
The 32-year-old Ronaldinho said Thursday he wants to take some time off from football to take care of his sick mother. When he is ready to return he might have to look for a club in a different country after mostly poor performances in the South American nation.
"There is no chance we will try to bring Ronaldinho," said Roberto de Andrade, a football director for Brazilian champion Corinthians, which was one of the teams trying to sign the player in 2011. "He doesn't fit into our style anymore. We have no interest."
Polls conducted by Brazilian media said most fans also wouldn't want to see him playing for their clubs, including one published by the sports daily Lance on Friday which interviewed supporters from 11 clubs and showed the majority didn't want Ronaldinho.
Ronaldinho ended his stint with Flamengo on Thursday when he sued the club for a reported $20 million in past salaries, asking a judge to terminate his contract. Flamengo officials acknowledged difficulties paying for the player's high salaries, although it denied it owed him $20 million in wages and other rights.
Some top football names in Brazil defended Ronaldinho on Friday. Santos coach Muricy Ramalho said he should remain an idol for Brazilian fans, while World Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, now with Palmeiras, said he would still want the player on his squad.
But club directors dismissed trying to pay for the high costs of having Ronaldinho on the team.
"Economically it's not feasible anymore," said Palmeiras club director Cesar Sampaio.
Ronaldinho last made headlines throughout Brazil in 2010 when he announced he was leaving AC Milan to play in Brazilian football again after a decade thriving in European football. Many Brazilian clubs pursued the former Brazil star, and Flamengo, Gremio and Palmeiras made high offers for the player.
The fight for Ronaldinho lasted several weeks and was controversial, with Palmeiras saying at the time that Ronaldinho agreed to play for the club and Gremio preparing a party to announce his signing. But in the end Ronaldinho said he wanted to play for Flamengo, in part because of its huge fan base.
In April, Flamengo's biggest fan group published a letter on its website criticizing Ronaldinho and accusing him of being unprofessional for his alleged appearances at parties and nightclubs.
"You must be kidding me," Gremio director Paulo Pelaipe told local media after being asked if the club would seek the player again. "Thankfully he chose not to come to Gremio back then. Now he is Flamengo's problem."
Local media has reported, citing sources close to Ronaldinho, that the player has already received offers from overseas clubs, including from China. Spanish media reported that Malaga may also be interested in the player.
Flamengo president Patricia Amorim said Friday she instructed the club's legal department aggressively fight the dispute with Ronaldinho.
"We are extremely disappointed, I promise fans that we will fight until the end to defend the team's rights," she said.
Flamengo began struggling to pay for Ronaldinho's salaries after ending its partnership with sports marketing group Traffic, which had been in charge of the majority of the nearly $700,000 that the player reportedly received monthly.
Ronaldinho disappointed in his first few months with Flamengo and was jeered by fans, but bounced back and was instrumental in Flamengo's title in the Rio de Janeiro state championship in 2011. He then helped Flamengo earn a spot in this year's Copa Libertadores and regained a spot in the national team, but began poorly again throughout this year.
Ronaldinho helped Brazil win the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, but was in the team that was eliminated by France in the 2006 quarterfinals in Germany. He was not picked for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
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