Portuguese FA release Cristiano Ronaldo statement on 'World Cup exit'

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal after the match at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Portugal and Switzerland at Lusail Stadium on December 6, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar.

The Portuguese FA have released a statement after reports suggested Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to leave the Portugal World Cup squad. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was dropped by manager Fernando Santos for their last 16 clash against Switzerland earlier this week.

Ronaldo was surprisingly left out of his nation’s starting lineup for their stunning 6-1 win over the Swiss. His replacement Goncalo Ramos justified Santos’ decision by scoring a brilliant hat-trick.

Ronaldo came on as a late substitute as he tried to end his World Cup knockout stage goal drought, but had a goal disallowed as Portugal progressed into the quarter-finals. After the match, the 37-year-old headed straight down the tunnel rather than staying on the pitch to celebrate with the rest of the squad.

The Portugal boss explained his displeasure at Ronaldo’s actions in the final group stage match against South Korea which resulted in him being dropped for the clash against Switzerland. The veteran coach addressed the issue in his press conference and was keen to draw a line under it.

“I did a flash interview when the match ended. Then I went into the press conference. I’d heard him (Ronaldo) in discussion with Korea’s players,” said Santos.

“But I didn’t like the other images when I saw them. Not at all. I really didn’t like them. Now, everything has finished. That issue is finished. Full stop.”

Portuguese news outlet Record claim Ronaldo got into a heated row with Santos and threatened to leave the World Cup entirely, with the 37-year-old striker unhappy with the role he has been given at the tournament. The Portuguese superstar is said to have calmed down eventually and backtracked on his threat, though the Portuguese FA have now released a statement denying the report.

The Portuguese FA’s statement read: “News released on Thursday claims Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to leave the national team during a conversation with national coach Fernando Santos. The FPF wants to clarify that at no time did national team captain Cristiano Ronaldo threaten to leave the national team during the tournament in Qatar.

“Cristiano Ronaldo continues to build on his unique record of service to the national team, which should be respected and which attests to his unquestionable degree of commitment to the national team. The national team – players, coaches and the FPF structure – are fully committed and enthusiastic, as has been the case since day one, to building what we hope will be Portugal’s best ever World Cup.”

Ronaldo is currently a free agent and has been linked with a shock move to Saudi Arabia after being offered a €200million (£180million) salary to play for Al-Nassr. The former Manchester United star denied reports that he has accepted the contract, saying: “No, that’s not true.”

The ex-Man Utd star has also been linked with a shock move to Chelsea following owner Todd Boehly’s interest in the attacker during the summer. However, recent reports state that he is still waiting for any European clubs to make an offer amid the huge contract available in Saudi Arabia.

Portugal are next in action on Saturday, December 10 when they take on Morocco in the quarter-final. Santos now faces a serious dilemma over whether to stick with hat-trick hero Ramos or restore Ronaldo to the starting lineup.

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