An interview with Robinho

Robinho - Coritnhians team signed his jerseyIf you think this is an article about an interview I did with Brazil and AC Milan forward Robinho da Souza, I have to disappoint you. This is an article about an interview I did with a more interesting Robinho, in my opinion.

During the preparations for the 2014 World Cup, the stadiums in Brazil have been the subject of much debate. The construction and renovation projects have been very expensive and  most projects came in over budget. A lot of people in Brazil think that the money spend could have been put to better use. They think more money should be spend on health care and education.

Meanwhile, there are thousands of workers working on the stadiums and other infrastructural projects. I am curious to know how they are doing. Unfortunately, I cannot just drive up to one of the stadiums in Brazil and ask some questions. I live in the Netherlands, that’s not really in the neighborhood. So I lined up some questions and looked for someone online who could get me in contact with a construction worker over there.

I was helped by Lucilene Girondi who lives in the São Paulo area. She took my questions to the Arena Corinthians where she had an encounter with Robinho. ….


An interview with Robinho

My name is Robson Lourenço, but they call me Robinho here at Arena Corinthians. I’m 28 years old and I live in Sao Paulo city, but I was born in Santo Andre city.

On what part of the stadium do you work? I’m part of the Administration sector. I’m a General Services Assistant.

How do you describe your job? I am like a Joker card here. What they ask me to do, I do. I give support to the Administration sector. I also escort the press, photographers and other. Sometimes, I back up our working team in general.

Were you a Joker-card from the beginning? I started here as Production Assistant. Six months later, I got promoted to the Work Safety Team and three to four months after that I was promoted to the Administration Team.

 When did you start working here? 2011. July 17th

Do you like working here? *smiling* Yes, I do. I don’t have words for that…

Is there something you don’t like about your job? What I don’t like…? *pause* To tell you the truth, I like everything here.

Isn’t there something you don’t like? No, there isn’t.

So if there is anything you don’t like, it is going home after a day of work. *smiling* If I could build my house here on the side of the pitch, it would be great!

Can you describe the mentality of the group of workers you are working with? I see the guys working here and they are happy while doing their job. It is because of Odebrecht, the company that is building this stadium. Not Corinthians, I’m talking about Odebrecht. There isn’t a bad thing to say about Odebrecht. They give us several benefits. They help us. They never disallowed us to speak our minds. They pay our salaries on time and correctly, so I don’t see any of the workers discouraged at their job here.

That kind of pressure I know “Go, go, go, go, right now!”, not here.

Have you worked under pressure a lot? I didn’t, not here. There was a time, mainly when we had – unfortunately – that accident with the truss, the part of the coverage, that the press published that workers here were working under a lot of pressure. There was even a worker – who wasn’t even identified, an anonymous one – who made statements that aren’t true. It isn’t about being a yes-man, someone who always agrees with superiors. it isn’t about that. We work here, so we know what happens here. I do my job and I don’t work under pressure. My boss doesn’t pick on me. It’s because I know what I have to do, my job. I think it is a general thing (to work right). The guys, they don’t work under pressure, not here. That kind of pressure I know “Go, go, go, go, right now!”, not here.

The guys aren’t pressuring. What we can do, we do. What matters here is to work safely. Security is the most important thing here, it always comes first.

Minor accidents have happened but these accidents – aside from that lethal accident that happened here back in November – resulted in minor injuries on a hand or a foot, but still, there is 100% security here. When you work here, you always keep an eye on safety.

As you said, an accident on November 27th, 2013 killed two workers on the site of the Arena Corinthians. Did this accident had a big impact on you and your colleagues? Did this accident affect your work? About my work, it hasn’t actually affected it. But my mind, it was affected. We knew the two workers who died. Me, mainly. I was always in the cafeteria and they – every lunchtime, breakfast time – passed me and they greeted me. When they died, when I saw that the accident involved them, it stayed in my mind for a few days. When we went into the work site, we could see the fallen truss and crane, the result of that accident… it reminded us of what happened to them again and again.

Fortunately, that truss has been changed, it was installed, but sometimes, when we look at it… it brings back the memory of Ronaldo and Fabio (the workers who died), the thought that they could still be here and celebrate with us……


Have you ever been injured on the job? I have! I… *laughs* I was the first worker here to have a medical record in Santa Marcelina Hospital. *laughs*

What happened? I hit my hand with a mallet, unintentionally *laughs* That time when I worked on the Work Safety Team. I was doing the isolation of an area using those blue little fences *he points at blue fences on the north bleachers*. It was drizzling that day. I went to make an isolation in a place due it, so when I was going to hit *he makes hand motions, simulating him holding a mallet*, the mallet slipped and it hit the tip of my finger. I cried. *laughing* I went to the infirmary on the site and later to Santa Marcelina’s and there they bandaged my finger.

So, you were ready for another day of work… Yes. I’m here now, thank you God I didn’t had another accident here.

During the protests in Brazil in the past 12 months, there was a lot of emphasis on the newly build World Cup stadiums and the renovation of existing stadiums. In the eyes of the protesters, money should have been spend on health care and education instead of on football stadiums. Have you ever had the feeling like you were working on the “evil” side? I haven’t. Because I think that – if it wasn’t because of Corinthians’ stadium coming to the Itaquera region – all those good things they (the government) are doing outside there could never have happened. Things like the renovation of the radial road, building viaducts and other good things they’re doing there. I know there are those people who criticize, the Anti-Corinthians people. I think they are Anti-Corinthians because of the Corinthians stadium happening here. It’s true many people need hospitals, in general. That thing Ronaldo said, that… that…

…that “you don’t make a World Cup with hospitals“… Yeah, that! I think the Brazilian people really lack hospitals. I see it a lot on TV, when they show that there are many people suffering in hospitals. But I believe that the Corinthians’ stadium itself will not bring prejudice, it will bring many benefits.

So you respect… 

…their opinion, I do. Everyone has his or her own way of thinking.

…and you don’t blame yourself for working here, so you continue to work day by day.

Yeah, of course!

The Arena Corinthians is one of the stadiums that should have been finished already. What is your opinion on the problems Brazil has had with preparing for the World Cup? About Brazil’s problems?

The construction delays, the preparing.. I believe those delays – not only in Arena Corinthians, but in general, in all arenas and stadiums – are due to the fact that they started preparing for the World Cup very late, when the World Cup was almost coming. They should have started earlier.

They were really late to choose all the actual host cities, right? It’s right! I think that if they started a few years earlier, everything would have been delivered on time. The stadiums would be ready, delivered.

Is there a lot of bureaucracy and people who plays against this stadium? There are a lot of them. Outside here, everybody criticizes this place. Many friends of mine say “Ha! It’s all government’s money, government’s money!” and I say “It isn’t government’s money! Pal, it is Corinthians’ money, not government’s money.

There is a part, indeed, a percentage of the government’s money here, but what stadium, I ask, what stadium in this country was built only with money from its club? There isn’t one! The government… Sao Paulo FC is an example of it, it has its own stadium. The time it was built, I wasn’t born yet, but the governor of Sao Paulo state, at the time, gave the land to Sao Paulo FC to build the now Morumbi stadium. That was a donation. So it means no club here can afford to pay alone for a steak this size. If the government wants this stadium (Arena Corinthians) for the World Cup, it has to invest, somehow. It’s just like Andres Sanchez (stadium supervisor) said some time ago: “This is Corinthians’ stadium!” and the ones who wished this stadium for the World Cup were FIFA and CBF (Brazilian Football Confederations), they also have to help for it (the World Cup) to happen.

I only don’t cry because I am a macho

Do you have the feeling that you have contributed to the most important football tournament in the world by working on the Arena Corinthians, or was it just a job to you, like any other job? Are you proud that you have worked on this project? It wasn’t just a job and of course I’m proud, absolutely proud. This marked my life to the last day of it. Once all this is finished here and, if it is God’s wish so, *smiling* if it’s God’s wish, then I want to be there *he points to the entry of the pitch, west bleachers*, not here on the bleachers. I want to be there, working as a Sport Club Corinthians’ employee and I’ll be looking at here, from there. I am there a lot and I just watch. I turn around, a 360° vision and…. I only don’t cry because I am a macho!

…But it feels like I’ll cry, it really does.

So you are proud that you are working here… Absolutely proud.

Who will win the World Cup? *he bites his lips and smiles*

Be frank. if it’s not Brazil, you can still tell us… Well, I’m supporting Brazil, I wish Brazil will win the championhip. But as I told someone from England who was visiting some time ago: “I’ll cheer for England, aside the Seleção, because Corinthians came from an English team (Corinthian F.C.)!”

So you are supporting England!? Aside the Seleção?

Who are you really supporting? I’m rooting for Brazil. But if the Brazilian team disappoints me, I wish England makes it to the final. As I told that reporter from England.

England will have a match against Uruguay here… Yeah!

FIFA has a Ticket Fund that includes stadium workers, so you can all get some tickets. Will you watch a match here? I think we will not get tickets for the Seleção match but if they give me one for England vs. Uruguay,  it would be a great pleasure to root for England.

Would you like to say something else? I just wanted to send a hug to you all, the Corinthians supporters and the people from Sonhos! *smiling*

Robson Lourenço

Many thanks to Lucilene Girondi and Robson Lourenço.

Joe Frederik

Author / Owner at
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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  • MrMister

    Nice article. Very entertaining. I have a lot of respect for these construction workers in Brazil. Are you going to do interviews with other people in Brazil?

  • Lucilene Girondi

    Robinho is a great person.

  • Fusssball

    He doesn´t cry ´cause he´s a macho :) Love it.

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