Portugal‘s Football Federation (FPF) has denied media reports that Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to leave the national team during the World Cup after coach Fernando Santos dropped the captain for their round of 16 win over Switzerland.
Ronaldo, Portugal’s most-capped player and all-time top scorer, was benched for their first knockout game on Tuesday as they beat Switzerland 6-1, with his replacement Goncalo Ramos netting a hat-trick. Ronaldo made a late substitute appearance.
“The FPF clarifies that at no time did the captain of the national team, Cristiano Ronaldo, threaten to leave the national team at any stage in Qatar,” it said.
“The level of commitment of Portugal’s most capped international player was once again demonstrated … in the victory against Switzerland.”
Ronaldo has struggled to find the net since converting from the penalty spot in Portugal’s group opener against Ghana, when he became the first player to score in five World Cups.
“A group too united to be broken by external forces,” Ronaldo said in an Instagram post on Thursday. “A nation too brave to let itself be frightened by any opponent. A team in the truest sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end! Believe us! Go ahead, Portugal!”
“I think what Ronaldo said [wrote] is absolutely right, we are united and it’s not those things from outside that will affect the group,” he said at a news conference on Thursday.
“We know everything that’s going on, inside and outside, and we’re just focused on playing and winning for Portugal.”
“It has been normal, nobody ever saw an argument or anything like that. It’s normal for the player to be heartbroken when he doesn’t play, but that’s all. Everything he does and doesn’t do becomes news.
“I think he always showed that [to be fully committed] and to everyone, inside and out, but the details of the images show the negative and never the positive. He is an example, the captain and even knowing he wasn’t going to play, he always gave us strength. We are united.
“Ronaldo is an exemplary player. He is one of the best in the history.”
Portugal play Morocco in the quarterfinals on Saturday.