Written by Sidney Harney
The 1998 World Cup Final was meant to be one of the greatest moments in sporting history. France, the hosting country, was set to play an all star team of Brazil. Brazil was actually favored to win the game, but this was before the events that occurred just hours before the match was supposed to kickoff. These events sent the media and conspiracy theorists into a frenzy.
The definite details the world can be sure of was that Christiano Ronaldo, who played for Brazil, fell ill just hours before the match. It was being reported that Ronaldo was having a severe fit and foaming at the mouth. If not for his teammates, many believe he would have choked on his own tongue. The team’s medical staff examined him and observed the soccer star with a series of tests. It was during this time the team’s coach, Zagallo, struck Ronaldo’s name from the starting lineup. However, just under an hour before gametime, Ronaldo’s name magically appeared on the list as a starter. How could one play a soccer game after having what seemed to be seizures? Ronaldo did not have an amazing game like people believed he would have had in the days leading up to the game. In fact, Ronaldo and Brazil lost to France 3-0. Not only did this peculiar situation turn the media world upside down with questions, it sent the conspiratorial world into chaos.
The biggest conspiracy theory that stemmed from the events leading up to the 1998 World Cup Final was the involvement of Nike. The brand had been endorsing not just Ronaldo but also the Brazil soccer team. They even marketed and advertised for the team before the tournament began. Naturally, conspiracy theorists all over the world put two and two together. Many believe Nike visited the head coach and insisted Ronaldo play in the game. Why might Nike want Ronaldo to play…money. Nike invested in its agreement with Texeria and the CBF and had already been requesting an all star lineup from the team throughout season friendlies. Ultimately, the company needed Ronaldo to play in order to give Brazil and chance to win and Nike a chance to profit.
After the 1998 World Cup Final, many began to question the integrity of professional sports. People want honest sports and this story certainly got the attention of sports fans. Some are critical of this theory and there are certainly other theories surrounding this occurrence, however most are deemed false. Nike even released a statement denying the claims. In a world of deception and dishonesty, we expect our sports to be true. These conspiracy theories do shed light on the possibility of false sports and cheating, but they are just conspiracy theories… or are they!