world cup | Portugal is trying hard to downplay the Ronaldo case

(Lisbon) On the eve of its departure to participate in the 2022 World Cup, Portugal is trying to minimize the impact on its selection of the controversy caused by its star, Cristiano Ronaldo, in an open conflict with his club, Manchester United.


“Do not disturb”, “Santos reduces”, “immune selection” … On Thursday, most of the headlines in the Portuguese newspapers referred to the reassuring remarks of the previous day from coach Fernando Santos about the exclusive interview in which he gave the five-time ball team. Or red balls were fired at United leaders and coach Erik ten Hag.

“It’s a private matter, his concern, not overflowing with choice,” the 68-year-old lashed out during the pre-World Cup pre-match press conference against Nigeria on Thursday (1:45 p.m.) Lisbon.

Santos confirmed that Ronaldo did not consult the coach or the Portuguese Federation before conducting the interview, “and he did not have to.”

“Not much interest.”

“We don’t pay much attention to it. […] “The most important thing is that we are all together to represent the Seleção as best we can at the World Cup,” said young defender Antonio Silva.

A few days before the start of the World Cup in Qatar, the “CR7” interview with star host Piers Morgan on TalkTV, of which a new episode was to be broadcast Thursday evening in Great Britain, caused a real explosion. The football world that turns its eyes to the captain of the Portuguese national team and his team, Manchester United.

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In this interview, excerpts of which were broadcast on Sunday, the 37-year-old striker opened up about his situation at the Red Devils, expressing his feeling of “betrayal”, harshly criticizing his coach Erik ten Hag and his companions. from the club accusing him of wanting to overthrow him.

In England, like Gary Neville, the former Portuguese partner at the Red Devils, there are some illusions about his future at the club: “I agree with some of the things Cristiano said. […] But the truth is if you are an employee of a company and you say such things your job should end and Man Utd should do it in the next few days.

Regarding the World Cup, Thursday’s analysis of the Portuguese sports press contrasted Fernando Santos’ optimism.

“This interview will not only have a strong impact on Manchester, where Cristiano will not play again, but will also have consequences for the selection,” because the controversy captures the attention of the “last week of preparations,” the sports newspaper worries. Paula in his editorial.

The challenge is to “get the whole group focused on football, selection meetings and their goals”, warns the daily, while its rival’s record raises unanswered questions.

“embarrassing questions”

“In this interview, the embarrassing questions are missing,” notes the deputy director of the sports daily. And to add: “It remains to be seen what Ronaldo thinks he did wrong in this case and who advised him.”

In this context, the absence of CR7 from the preparatory meeting against Nigeria due to gastritis raises all speculations. “With Cristiano, everything raises doubts. But no, he really has this problem that prevents him from training, ”he had to specify Fernando Santos.

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On Wednesday evening, the Golden Ball missed five times the visit of Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who went to the “Football City”, the Portuguese training center located in the western suburbs of Lisbon, to wish Seleçao well. luck.

“There is a lot of controversy around this World Cup, but there is only one thing that is not controversial and that is that we are all behind the selection,” he told the players on the field after a training session.

Without their captain, Portugal will face Nigeria before traveling to Qatar on Friday as they kick off the World Cup on November 24 against Ghana, before then facing Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.

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