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Team Doctor Confirms Ronaldo Had Convulsions

Associated Press
Tuesday, July 14, 1998; Page E6

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Ronaldo was stricken with convulsions for a half-minute just hours before Brazil played France in Sunday night's World Cup final, the team's doctor said yesterday.

The star forward, 21, was feeling "emotional stress" before the game, Lidio Toledo said from Paris. He added that he took Ronaldo to the hospital for a battery of tests that included an electrocardiogram.

Confusion surrounded Ronaldo's status Sunday night. He was not among the 11 starters initially picked by Coach Mario Zagallo. But his name was reinstated just before the game.

What is unclear is what happened between the initial lineup decision and the game's start.

FIFA officials said Ronaldo had gone to the hospital for X-rays on his left ankle, and doctors cleared him to play just before the game.

Ronaldo said on Brazil's TV Globo News that after the convulsions he went to sleep and "woke up with pains all over my body."

"It was something real bad that I had never before felt in my whole life. I really felt bad. I had a headache, my stomach pained", he told the Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Globo.

But he said he eventually felt normal again and thought he could play. Zagallo confirmed that Ronaldo, who also had knee and ankle problems, asked to play.

There were reports of locker room squabbles as to whether the striker should be on the field.

"I kept thinking, 'Should I play him or not?'" Zagallo said. "We were very apathetic, and even with him in, the group already was affected."

Ratings Still Low
France's upset was of little help to ABC's television ratings. The 40-market overnight rating for the final produced a 6.9 rating and 17 share, 46 percent lower than the 12.8 overnight for the Brazil-Italy final in 1994, when the tournament was held in the United States.

A rating point for ABC represents 980,000 households. A share is the percentage of televisions tuned to a show. Disney-owned ABC and ESPN were expected to show a modest profit on the $22 million rights fees.

Spanish-language Univision's telecast reached 1.715 million households, a Univision World Cup record. The tournament as a whole brought Univision an average of 850,000 households for the 56 live games, eclipsing ESPN (670,000 households) and ESPN2 (114,000).

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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