RIO DE JANEIRO: The mayor of Rio de Janeiro has offered to use public funds to help one of the city's four first division clubs sign World Cup winner Rivaldo.
Cesar Maia said in a radio interview on Tuesday that he had spoken to the former Barcelona, Deportivo Coruna and AC Milan player, who was open to the idea of continuing his career in the so-called “Marvellous City.”
Maia added that he had discussed the idea with the president of newly promoted Botafogo but said the offer was also open to their rivals Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama.
Rivaldo has been a free agent since being released by Italian Serie A club AC Milan this month following what he has described as the worst year of his career.
“He told me on the phone that he was open to this possibility,” Maia said.
“We didn't talk about money because that is something that has to be dealt with between the club and the player.
“I've told Botafogo how much money I've got available for this investment but he could go to a different club, if they can reach the amount that Rivaldo is asking for.
“The idea is to use money from the city government's advertising budget to help promote Rio de Janeiro's football, which has lost its way recently but will get it back.
“We're not taking money from the health and education budgets,” he added.
Maia, who is in his second stint as Rio's mayor, has been keen to use sport to boost the city's image which has been tarnished by violent crime and poverty.
Rio de Janeiro will host the next Pan American Games in 2007 and is one of the candidates for the 2012 Olympics.– Reuters