Brazilian president, Ronaldo try to put an end to weight controversy

Brazil's sports minister visited the team's training camp on Saturday carrying a message from the Brazilian president to Ronaldo: He likes you.

Ronaldo had complained of increased speculation about his weight after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva asked in a video conference with players whether the Real Madrid striker was fat.

"I told Ronaldo about the admiration that Brazil, president Lula and myself have for him," Orlando Silva Junior said after one of Brazil's practice sessions. "Lula likes Ronaldo ... and we all have a national sentiment for the Selecao."

The visit, which Junior said had already been scheduled before the controversy began, came a day after the Brazilian president sent a fax to Ronaldo saying his previous comments about the striker's weight were meant to end speculation, not add fuel to it.

"The president's letter was very nice and showed that he understood what I had meant," Ronaldo said on his official Web site. "Not always what is said about ourselves is the truth. For me, the episode is over."

Ronaldo, who was not at the video conference, reacted to the president's question on Friday by comparing the speculation about his weight to the speculation about the president's affection for alcohol.

"It's as much a lie that I'm fat as it must be that he drinks a lot," he told Brazilian TV.

Silva, Brazil's first working-class president, has not hidden his affection for alcohol. He has often appeared with a glass of beer or whiskey in his hand, but has never been known to be drunken in public.

In the fax sent to Ronaldo, Silva said he didn't mean to put Ronaldo's condition in doubt, the Brazilian Soccer Confederation said Saturday. Ronaldo received the fax Friday after practice, CBF spokesman Rodrigo Paiva said.

In the video conference on Thursday, attended by most of the Brazilian team, Silva asked coach Carlos Alberto Parreira: "So, what is it? Is he fat or not?"

"He is very strong, president," Parreira answered. "He is not that boy anymore. His body type has changed."

Ronaldo had said the president may have been influenced by "the lack of responsibility of the media," which insists in talking about his weight.

Brazilian doctors have guaranteed Ronaldo will be fit on Tuesday, when Brazil begins its quest for a record sixth world title against Croatia in Berlin. He practiced normally Friday.

The defending champions also play Australia and Japan in Group F, reports AP.

O.Ch.