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Reds in Rio to drink, taunts Gerson

Published Jan 11, 2000


By Brian Homewood

Rio de Janeiro - - Former World Cup winner Gerson says Manchester United came to the World Club Championship to drink whisky and enjoy the sun.

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Gerson, who played in the great Brazil side which won the 1970 World Cup, mocked European champions United and other foreign clubs in the tournament and said people were right to walk out of matches not involving Brazilian teams.

"If their games were good, of course the fans would go," he wrote in a newspaper column.

"Manchester United came here to drink whisky, make the most of the sun and see if our whisky is as good as theirs.

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"What they did was a joke. They played rubbish."

And in another broadside against overseas teams, leading commentator Juca Kfouri described the standard of Middle Eastern football as "grotesque".

The comments of Gerson and Kfouri came one day after Eurico Miranda, director of Brazilian side Vasco da Gama, boasted that not a single Manchester United player was good enough for his team.

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Vasco beat United 3-1 on Saturday two days after the English club had been held to a 1-1 draw by Mexico's Necaxa.

Brazilian fans have fervently supported their own teams in the championship while ignoring all other games.

On Friday, around 55,000 watched home team Corinthians play Real Madrid in Sao Paulo and then left en masse before the start of the Al Nassr-Raja Casablanca game which followed on a double bill.

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Similarly, only around 1,000 of the 70,000 who watched Vasco beat United on Saturday stayed for the second game between Necaxa and South Melbourne.

The Australians' coach Ange Postecoglou complained about being greeted by a "wall of silence" while United coach Alex Ferguson said his team had not played in an empty stadium before.

Gerson had no sympathy and also poured scorn on Real's 3-2 win over Raja Casablanca on Monday, blaming Real's attitude rather any Moroccan merits for the slender than expected win.

"Real Madrid didn't come here to play seriously. Yesterday's game against Raja Casablanca demonstrated this. Real were joking around at the start and then made things difficult for themselves."

In the same newspaper Kfouri, commenting on the 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr that took Corinthians to the final, described the Middle Eastern team's play as "grotesque Arabian football".

On Monday, outspoken Vasco director Miranda had said of United: "There they were claiming that the English weren't interested in the world championship, yet the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) sent 60 people to cover the tournament.

"This shows that it was the most important competition that they have taken part in in their history. They came here thinking they were going to win easily but they didn't count on the strength of Vasco.

"No Manchester player would get a place in the Vasco team at the moment.

"The Brazilians are the best players in the world, the Europeans do not even come close."

Vasco needed only to draw with Mexico later on Tuesday to win group B and make the final an all-Brazilian affair. "They will score three goals easily," predicted Gerson. - Reuters

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