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Kidnappings of Brazilian Soccer Moms - update

Canuck Oranje

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Not sure if anyone here has been following this bizarre situation. This is a phenomenon (kidnapping of Soccer moms) that hasn't been all that frequent until very recently. I heard it said that business executives have become more difficult because of improved security while the mothers of soccer stars tend to try to continue their lives as before and are easy prey.

Anyhow, I found this story at www.goal.com

Kidnapped: Brazilian Mothers Pay The Price Of Fame

5/14/2005 9:03:00 PM

As the latest kidnapping of a Brazilian football player’s mother comes to a thankfully bloodless end, Aaron Marcus lets Goal.com readers in on the trend that preys on the women that find their sons’ successes come at a high price...

Looking somewhat dishevelled, Sandra Helena Clemente made her debut on national television accompanied by heavily armed members of the Grupo Anti-Seqüestro (Anti-Kidnapping Group). Unaccustomed to video camera lights and flashes, Sandra usually takes a back seat and leaves the spotlights to settle on her son – Luis Fabiano. The ex-SPFC striker wept with joy in Portugal, the scenes putting an end to a 62-day ordeal that is becoming so common that many players are suffering from pre-traumatic stress. Over the past year Robinho (Santos), Rogério (Sporting Lisboa) and Grafite (São Paulo) have gone through similar experiences.

In this case the rescue was the result of an anonymous tip-off that led Police to a small farm in the rural Paulista backwater of Mairinque. A phone call alerted the local authorities to a woman screaming for help in a shack on the farm; G.A.S. members from Sorocaba investigated the call and discovered Sandra tied to a chair. Apart from the expected weakness after almost two months of physical confinement, Luis Fabiano’s mother was safe and sound. The press had buried the story at the express desire of the striker’s advisors, and ‘Fabigol’ thanked them as well as “My family, friends, police, staff and players here [at Porto F.C.]...I owe a hat-trick in return!”

The rural University city of Campinas (100km NNW of São Paulo) is a common thread in three of the recent kidnappings. Luis Fabiano was born there, and it was from in front of his parents’ house that his mother was snatched when she was returning from the local supermarket. Inês Fidelis Regis (Sporting Lisboa right-back Rogério’s mother) was also seized in Campinas on the 21st of March 2004, although luckily her ordeal only lasted three days: Police stormed the Caraguatatuba hide-out used by the kidnappers. Even more ‘fortunate’ was Ilma de Castro Libânio (a.k.a. Grafite’s mother) – 25 hours in another run-down farm on the outskirts of Campinas. Police are investigating the existence of an organised gang of kidnappers, although their investigations are being conducted with a spectacular lack of efficiency.

Robinho’s case was the only one to fall further afield than the Campinas municipal boundaries. His mother – Marina Silva de Souza – was taken in a slight variation on the usual doorstep snatch; two armed men jumped her garden wall when she was preparing a barbecue with two friends on the evening of the 6th of November. She spent 41 days waiting for the hammer to fall, being shaved in the process to ‘encourage’ Robinho to part with more money. Rather than waiting for severed digits, Robinho coughed up a reported $200,000 – with the aid of Santos President Marcelo Teixeira – and his mother was found dazed and wandering down Santa Cruz street in a São Paulo shanty town.

With a basic salary that hovers around $100 a month it’s no surprise to find people literally falling over each other to get the $2,000 or $4,000 that is offered to those willing to watch over a kidnap victim. For those lacking natural talents or the urge to study their way out of favelas, inner-city slums and stagnant rural backwaters an easy target is offered by players eager to show the trappings of their new wealth. Although the kidnappings have led to less ostentatious displays of bling, players’ salaries are regularly broadcast on TV and printed on the sports pages. With guns for hire and a rising firearms-related homicide rate, temptation and disaster are just two steps away for the desperate.

Some people still think in terms of a bond of honour between those who made it out of poverty and those who are stuck in the mire – something akin to that golden oldie ‘honour amongst thieves’. Those people better think again: Viola has had his motorbike robbed from under him three times; Romario has been stopped at gunpoint and relieved of sports cars; Pele has been burgled. The lure of cash that would take months to earn takes precedence over star worship, especially if you root for the other team. Luckily we haven’t been forced to see a player weeping at a funeral yet, but unless serious action is taken it will sadly be only a matter of time.

Aaron Marcus

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