Former basketball player Oscar Schmidt, 65, sparked outrage in Franca (400 km from São Paulo) by describing the city as a “fucking shitty place” during his appearance on a podcast on Thursday (2).
In a note this Saturday (4), Oscar apologized to the French people.
The controversial statement was made on Ticaracaticast, by comedians Márvio Lúcio (Carioca) and Marcos Chiesa (Bola), in a conversation with the participation of former player Marcel Souza, another national basketball icon.
Franca is a city of 352 thousand inhabitants, also known as the capital of men’s footwear, and home to the most traditional Brazilian basketball club, current intercontinental champion.
After Marcel stated that playing against Franca was “cheap” because of the rivalry, Oscar said that Franca asked him to take care of the team in the past, through sponsorship, and that he did not accept the proposal.
“I said ‘No, damn it, I’m not going to do that, man. Keep yours there, and I’ll keep mine in São Paulo’. Imagine, I’ll go to Franca? Holy shit place”, said Oscar.
Carioca laughed and pondered, saying that the city was good, “just a little far from São Paulo”. Marcel then said that he liked Franca.
Oscar and Marcel won the Club World Cup with Sírio, in 1979, and were gold medalists at the 1987 Pan-American Games, in Indianapolis, in the United States — a victory that is considered one of the greatest in the history of Brazilian basketball.
Sírio and Franca were strong rivals in São Paulo basketball. In the 70s, for example, each won four states. If Sírio disbanded the professional team, Franca always remained active, but not without facing financial problems — he even had difficulties buying uniforms in the early 2000s.
Oscar’s statement sparked outrage in the city, which has a basketball on its flag and whose club, Sesi Franca Basquete, won, at the end of September, the title of intercontinental champion in Singapore, considered the FIBA club world championship ( International Basketball Federation).
Politicians, businesspeople, entities and fans criticized the speech of the highest scorer at the Olympic Games and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I vehemently repudiate the ridiculous and regrettable statements made by former basketball player Oscar Schmidt. The achievements of Franca, Franca basketball and our people really continue to cause a lot of ‘pain in the neck’ for some people out there”, said the Mayor of Franca, Alexandre Ferreira (MDB).
Udecif (União de Defesa da Cidadania de Franca) released a note of condemnation for the way Oscar treated the city, listed titles obtained by the team in its history and said that all teams “have or have had at some point in their professional staff from of our city.”
“We demand the immediate formal retraction of your ladyship’s unfortunate speech”, says the note.
State deputies from antagonistic parties, but based in the city, also criticized the former player’s speech, such as Guilherme Cortez (PSOL) and Graciela Ambrósio (PL).
“Oscar missed two opportunities: to remain silent and be part of the history of the greatest basketball team in Brazil. Fortunately, his disrespect and resentment were never missed for Franca Basquete to become the greatest in the world,” said Cortez.
A video posted on social media shows a restaurant businessman placing an Oscar basketball jersey to be used as a doormat in his establishment.
Sesi Franca Basquete posted on X (formerly Twitter) that “The circus only catches fire when it gives confidence. Stay silent and the show ends.” The phrase was criticized by fans, who asked for a more emphatic stance against the former player’s speech.
Wanted by Sheet this Saturday, Oscar responded, through his press office, that “at that moment”, he was referring “to specific situations, experienced within the block, and never to the city; to tell the truth, if more cities were like Franca, the level of Brazilian basketball would be much higher”.
“I am sincerely sorry for the comment I made in the interview”, says the note, addressed to “the people of Franca”. “You are living a beautiful moment in basketball, you are world champions, and in no way deserve to tarnish this moment with a completely out of tone and meaningless statement made by me.”
WORLD WORLD WITHOUT NBA
The victory in the intercontinental was also commented by Marcel on the podcast, when questioning the strength of the opponent defeated in the final — Telekom Baskets Bonn, from Germany.
The competition does not include teams that compete in the NBA and has not always included the main European clubs, which is the case in the current edition. Bonn competed in the tournament after winning the FIBA Champions League, created seven seasons ago in Europe to compete with the Euroleague, which brings together the main teams on the continent, such as Real Madrid.
In addition to the intercontinental in Singapore, Sesi Franca Basquete has been the main winner among Brazilian clubs in recent years.
Current two-time champion of the NBB (New Basketball Brazil), Franca won the Champions League of the Americas in April, by defeating Flamengo, 4 of the last 6 from São Paulo and is the current winner of the Super 8 Cup. In history, it has won 15 state titles, 13 national titles , 6 South American and 4 Pan American.