Cristiano Ronaldo has complained about being benched, Portugal coach Fernando Santos said on Friday as he asked for the situation to be resolved.
For the first time since 2006, the seasoned striker came on as a substitute during his team’s 6-1 victory over Switzerland in the World Cup’s round of 16.
Ronaldo allegedly threatened to leave the team after learning that he wasn’t in the starting lineup, according to a report in the Portuguese newspaper Record.
Meanwhile the Portuguese Football Association (PFA) refuted the claims, and Ronaldo himself said on social media that the team was “too unified to be divided by outside forces.”
Prior to Portugal’s quarterfinal match against Morocco, Santos said that he had spoken to Ronaldo the day before the match against Switzerland.
So that it wouldn’t be a surprise, he says, “I invited him to my office and told him ‘you will not be one of the starters’.”
“I told him he would be significant, but in terms of the game plan, I advised him not to participate. He was mine to keep for the second half.”
Santos claimed that despite his annoyance at being benched, five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo never threatened to leave the team camp.
For obvious reasons, Cristiano wasn’t very pleased about it, according to Santos. Except for one or two games when he was a reserve, he has always been a starter; obviously, he was not pleased.
“Do you truly think it’s a good idea,” Ronaldo asked me?
However, we had a typical talk during which I expressed my opinions.
Naturally, he agreed. He has never told me he wanted to leave our national team; we had an open and honest chat.
Santos claimed that Ronaldo’s celebration of Portugal’s goals and inciting of the players to applaud the crowd demonstrated his dedication to the group.
In an effort to put an end to the situation, the coach declared, “It’s high time we finish with this talk, stop the controversies.”
“In recognition of everything he has done for Portuguese football, it is high time you leave Ronaldo alone.”
As Morocco will present a different challenge from Switzerland on Saturday, Santos suggested that he would re-incorporate the 37-year-old into the squad.
They have a lot of players from Chelsea, PSG, and Bayern Munich and are a very well-organized club with tremendous talent and promise, he stated.