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Korean fans feel cheated by Ronaldo and his team

Posted July. 29, 2019 08:01,   

Updated July. 29, 2019 08:01


In Seoul World Cup Stadium on Friday, a friendly match was held between Juventus of Italy’s Serie A and the K League All-Star team. Juventus’ superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who did not leave the bench during the entire game, looked daggers at a reporter who asked if something happened to him, and got out of the mixed zone. A feeling of annoyance was plainly seen on his face.

Some 63,000 fans braved the rain and flocked to the stadium to watch one of the world’s most famous footballers play in person. Tickets were pricey, with the highest-priced one costing 400,000 won, but were all sold out just in two and a half hours. TheFasta, the agency responsible for the event with Juventus, was aware of such high interest in Ronaldo and thus included a clause in a contract with Juventus that Ronaldo shall play a minimum of 45 minutes of the match.

However, the Portuguese player’s behaviors on that day were more than enough to disappoint the tens of thousands of fans. He not only remained in the bench until the final whistle, but was wearing an earring, which should not be worn by footballers during a match. This signals that he did not intend to play from the get-go. Yet, Ronaldo had earlier said that he would not participate in a pre-match fan event, citing a need to prepare for the match. Juventus’ response to Ronaldo’s manners was likewise inacceptable.

According to TheFasta, when the agency lodged a protest against Juventus as it was aware of Ronaldo’s non-appearance on the pitch after 10 minutes of the second half, the club said it could do nothing as the player did not want to play, although both the manager and the player know about the clause. It cannot be a valid excuse that the Italian football champions breached the contract just because a player said he could not play, whom they pay over 700 million won a week.

In fact, Juventus continuously made excuses and showed no consideration for the Korean fans from before they arrived in Korea and until they left. It was Juventus that requested a tight one-day schedule packed with a match and a fan-meeting in the first place. Still, when they were caught in heavy traffic after arrival, they vented anger over the absence of the police escorting them to the stadium.

“I took the early train to see Ronaldo at a fan meeting, but feel cheated. I’ll just go back (to Daegu) without watching the match,” said Kim Hyo-soon, who lives in Daegu. After Friday’s match, fans vented huge disappointment on the Internet, telling their own stories. There was a person who bought expensive tickets to see the game together with a sibling who’s been suffering from a disease for several years, and another person said that he managed to purchase tickets for his daughter whose dream is to become a football player. Yet, all these people had to return home disappointed.

Won-Joo Lee takeoff@donga.com