Soccer is almost never discussed in this column, because, well, soccer kind of blows. Every time I feel ashamed to be an American in the age of our disappearing manufacturing economy and our dumbed-down reality-show culture, I look at the rest of the world watching transfixed all the way to the end of a World Cup game that ends up 0-0, getting decided by penalty kicks — and I feel better. We may be a nation of drunk, stupid Lindsay Lohans headed for third-world status, but least our sports
That said, soccer occasionally catches our attention with an amazing sports-crime story. It's been slow since Diego Maradona (allegedly) gave up coke, but that's all changed now, with the arrest of Bruno Fernandes de Souza, goalkeeper for Brazilian first-division team Flamengo. Souza turned himself in to authorities this week in what has to be one of the most salacious stories in the history of sports crime.
This is an incredibly complicated tale, but the gist of it is that Souza allegedly killed a woman with whom he had group sex last year — which apparently happens quite often in the world of Brazilian soccer. "It was an orgy," he told a magazine before his arrest. "These parties are common in our circle. I was with her, everyone was with her."
The victim, Eliza Samudio, was apparently a fixture at such parties and posted photos of herself on her Facebook page with a variety of soccer stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo, with whom she says she shared "some kisses." Over the past year, however, she became pregnant and bore a child. And the story goes that she was pressuring Souza, who is married and has two children, to accept paternity of this four-month-old boy.
Seven people have been arrested in connection with the subsequent murder plot. Souza's cousin claims he heard Souza tell two men to "resolve the problem"; the next day, the cousin accompanied those two men as they lured the woman to the house of a fourth man, who in turn tied up the woman and strangled her. The cousin furthermore told the police that the woman's remains were then fed to four Rottweilers.
Souza has steadfastly denied being involved with the case, but police say they now believe he was there when this whole scene went down. Once talked about as possibly being the goalie for the Brazilian national team at the 2014 World Cup, it now looks like Souza well be spending the next few years in a different place altogether.
The story highlights the extreme difference between the treatment of sports stars in the US and in other places in the world. Brazilians until this point embraced Souza, even though he's made some rather shocking statements in the past — including once telling reporters, in response to accusations that he'd hit his girlfriend, "Who hasn't raised a hand to a woman?" He was also embroiled in a small controversy in 2008 when several prostitutes accused him of being "aggressive" in an orgy that also involved players from a rival team.
Here in America, we flip out if Manny Ramirez shares a glass of Courvoisier with Enrique Wilson. Imagine if we caught Yankees and Red Sox players tag-teaming hookers together? In Brazil, this sort of thing only makes the news if one of the orgy participants gets too rough with one of the party girls.