Ronaldo denies threatening to quit Portugal after being benched
Cristiano Ronaldo has denied claims he wanted to quit the World Cup after being dropped for Portugal’s last-16 tie against Switzerland.
In a statement on social media, Ronaldo declared that the squad were “too strong to be broken by outside forces”. The country’s football federation also issued a denial.
Ronaldo was left out of the starting line-up against the Swiss. His replacement, Goncalo Ramos, hit a hat-trick in the 6-1 win, which has set up a quarter-final on Sunday morning AEDT.
Coach Fernando Santos had hit out at Ronaldo’s behaviour after the 37-year-old was substituted during the group-game defeat by South Korea but later insisted his decision to drop him was not disciplinary.
However, it was then claimed in the Portuguese sports newspaper Record that Ronaldo, whose contract with Manchester United was recently ripped up, had threatened to fly home.
Record claimed Ronaldo, Portugal’s captain, told Santos he might leave after being informed he was not starting against Switzerland before calming down.
Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) on the bench for Portugal.Credit:Getty Images
In response to the report, Ronaldo wrote: “A group too close to be broken by outside forces. A nation too brave to let itself be frightened by any adversary. A team in the truest sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end! Believe in us! Strength, Portugal!”
The Portuguese federation defended Ronaldo.
“We clarify that at no time did the captain of the national team, Cristiano Ronaldo, threaten to leave the national team in Qatar,” an FPF statement said.
“Cristiano Ronaldo builds up a unique track record every day at the service of the national team and the country, which attests to the unquestionable degree of commitment to the national team.
“Incidentally, the degree of dedication of the player most capped by Portugal was again demonstrated — if necessary — in the victory against Switzerland.”
Santos said after beating Switzerland that Ronaldo’s role for the rest of the World Cup had to be “defined”.
Watch every match of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League on Stan Sport. Returns for the Round of 16 in February 2023, with all matches streaming ad-free, live and on demand.
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