Copa América: Ronaldinho blasts Brazil squad, won’t support

Brazil legend Ronaldinho has blasted this year’s Copa América squad ahead of the tournament, saying there is a “lack of love for the shirt” among the team.

Ronaldinho, who won Copa América with Brazil in 1999 and the World Cup in 2002, took to Instagram to bemoan “a sad moment for those who like Brazilian football.”

“It’s difficult to find energy to watch the games,” he wrote. “This is maybe one of the worst teams in recent years, it has no respectable leaders, just average players for the most part.

“I’ve been following football since I was a kid, long before I thought about becoming a player, and I’ve never seen a situation as bad as this. There’s a lack of love for the shirt, a lack of determination and most importantly [a lack of] football.

“The performance has been one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame. That’s why I declare I’m giving up here. I won’t watch any CONMEBOL Copa América games and I won’t celebrate if Brazil win.”

The 2005 Ballon d’Or winner did find time in an interview on the Cartoloucos channel to say that Real Madrid star Vinícius Júnior deserves to emulate that individual feat in 2024, having helped Los Blancos to a LaLiga and Champions League double.

Brazil winger Raphinha responded to Ronaldinho’s criticism on Saturday, calling it a “surprise.”

“It was a surprise not only for me, but for everyone,” the Barcelona player said. “I believe you must know me a lot more than I do. He never made a statement like that. He always showed support. He surprised a lot of people.

“I consider him an idol, a reference, and the others here on the team do, too. Everyone looks at him as a reference. It was a blow for us. We don’t agree, I don’t agree.

“I’m going into my third year in the team and all I see here is dedication, desire and pride to wear this shirt. I don’t agree with what was said about having average players wearing the shirt. I completely disagree. Everyone here has the quality and merit to wear the shirt.

“We found out, from Vinicius Junior, that Ronaldinho asked for a ticket to see our game these days, so it doesn’t match what was said. Being here, I see everyone’s dedication every day.”

Brazil’s first game at Copa América comes against Costa Rica on June 24, with Colombia and Paraguay also in Group D.