GUARAREMA, Brazil – Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was able to forget his legal problems for a while with singer-songwriter Chico Buarque when the pair were on hand on Sunday to inaugurate a school soccer field in the town of Guararema, in the interior of Sao Paulo state.
Artists, intellectuals, politicians and former soccer players all turned out in the town located some 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Brazil’s largest city to inaugurate the Dr. Socrates Brasileiro soccer field at the Florestan Fernandes National School.
The former president and Buarque, one of the best-known figures in Brazilian pop music, were the main attractions at the event, organized by the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST).
Lula, 72, an avid soccer fan and passionate supporter of Corinthians, donned for a few minutes a black and white jersey bearing No. 13 and even scored a goal on a penalty kick, to the delight of the roughly 1,500 people organizers said were on hand for the event.
As a joke, the former president was also handed a red card, while the spectators shouted “Out with Temer,” referring to the current president of Brazil, Michel Temer, whose popularity is at low ebb.
Lula, who heads the Workers Party (PT) and governed Brazil from 2003-2010, has said on numerous occasions that he would like to run for president again in the October 2018 national elections, but his candidacy is in doubt because he is facing assorted court proceedings for corruption.
He has already been sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison for corruption in one of the seven cases opened against him, most of them stemming from the huge scandal involving Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras.
He remains free however and on Jan. 24 an appeals court will decide whether or not to confirm the sentence he received, which – if upheld – could prevent his prospective presidential run.