Ronaldo staying busy with marketing agency

Retired striker Ronaldo is far from done with soccer.

Ronaldo will be playing his farewell match with Brazil’s

national team Tuesday, but it won’t be the end for him. Since

retiring in February, Ronaldo has stayed active with a sports

marketing agency and a career managing young players.

Still highly influential in the sport he dominated for years,

the three-time FIFA player of the year is already succeeding off

the field too, signing clients such as Neymar and Lucas, touted as

the future of Brazil’s national team. He is a partner in the

company named ”9ine,” which also has deals outside soccer,

including with Brazilian indoor soccer star Falcao and the Ultimate

Fighting Championship’s Anderson Silva.

”Because of the agency, I’ve been able to keep working with

what I like the most – sports,” Ronaldo said in an e-mail to The

Associated Press. ”Of course that I still have a lot to learn in

business and in marketing, but I’m working hard, participating in

the agency’s day-to-day activities, helping in the decision-making

process and meeting with clients and prospects.”

Ronaldo says he is not an agent, that he is not in the business

of making money by signing young talents and then selling them. He

guarantees the company is not directly involved in managing his

clients’ careers, but more in the field of attracting sponsors and

managing their images through public relations.

Sao Paulo midfielder Lucas, who teamed up with Neymar to help

Brazil win the under-20 South American championship earlier this

year, was the latest to sign with Ronaldo.

”This partnership shows exactly where ‘9ine’ wants to play,

with focus on communication and marketing,” Ronaldo said on

Twitter when the deal was closed last month. ”Lucas is a young and

talented player, a great opportunity for brands who want to invest

in sports.”

Lucas and Neymar, currently the most talked about player in

Brazilian soccer, are expected to be Brazil’s top players when the

country hosts the 2014 World Cup.

But Ronaldo is looking for more.

He said he is yet to reach exclusive deals with Brazil star Kaka

or young playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso, another promising

Brazilian star, but both players said they are open to negotiate

with Ronaldo if he can provide good sponsorship opportunities.

Ronaldo has a 45 percent stake at the ”9ine Sports and

Entertainment” agency, while the WPP Group owns another 45 percent

and a Brazilian entrepreneur has the remaining 10 percent. The

agency focuses on exploiting the marketing opportunities in Brazil

as it prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in

Rio, according to the website of WPP, which calls itself a world

leader in advertising and marketing services.

On Tuesday, Ronaldo is expected to play a few minutes in

Brazil’s exhibition against Romania in Sao Paulo, marking the final

time he will officially wear the famed yellow jersey. He will be

honored at halftime for his successful time playing with the

national team.

His last official match with Brazil was in the 2006 World Cup in

Germany, where Brazil lost to France in the quarterfinals. The

34-year-old Ronaldo ended an 18-year career in February, saying he

couldn’t stay fit anymore while playing for Corinthians.

Despite a career plagued by severe knee injuries, Ronaldo played

in four World Cups and is the tournament’s top goalscorer with 15.

He was on soccer, though, and his business also is reaching other

areas. After Silva defeated Vitor Belfort with a spectacular single

kick to the face in a UFC fight in February, he quickly put on a

Corinthians’ jersey that sported one of the brands sponsoring him

after a deal with Ronaldo’s company.

Ronaldo also has a deal with Falcao, who is considered the

world’s best indoor soccer player and is well known in Brazil and

in Europe.

Tales Azzoni can be reached at http://twitter.com/tazzoni