Brazil use Ronaldinho to fish for tourists in ambassadorial role, but keep his passport

September 6 – Former Barcelona star Ronaldinho Gaucho has been named a tourism ambassador in Brazil despite his travel ban.

The announcement that the 39-year-old would be one of 15 people “with an international profile” chosen by the government’s Embratur tourism agency to promote Brazil as a tourist destination abroad came just hours after Brazil’s supreme court upheld a decision to ban Ronaldinho from traveling abroad.

Last November, Ronaldinho’s passport was seized  after he failed to pay a fine, relating to ‘environmental damage’, resulting from a 2015 court case. Ronaldinho and his brother were convicted of illegally building a fishing trap at Lake Guaiba in 2015 without proper licensing in a permanent preservation area.

“Tourism is very important for generating jobs and regaining our image internationally,” said Ronaldinho at his unveiling.

“You take the case of Ronaldinho, a person who has almost 100 million followers in his networks and voluntarily helps us at no cost for patriotism. This attitude is invaluable,” said Brazilian Institute of Tourism’s director of marketing and public relations Osvaldo de Melo Junior. “Just by issuing a visa to countries like the United States and Canada, we have already had over 200% increase in demand for our country. We will increasingly invest, even in intelligence, to achieve our goals.”

Ronaldinho retired from football in 2018.  He won the FIFA world player of the year award twice and the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 when he scored a remarkable goal against England in the quarter-finals en route to the final.

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