Ronaldo gets backing after interview scandal

Portugal’s national coach Fernando Santos has defended football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo after his recent television interview, which was also much criticized at home in Portugal.

“It’s a very personal interview that has to be respected. It’s about tolerance,” explained the coach of the World Cup participant to journalists in Lisbon. Ronaldo is a “free” person.

In conversation with the British moderator Piers Morgan this week, Ronaldo sharply criticized his club Manchester United, accused the coach Erik ten Haag of “treason” and also dished out against current and former teammates such as Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville.

The statements caused astonishment and displeasure not only in England. Ronaldo was also criticized by Portuguese media. Among other things, they spoke of an “own goal” by the 37-year-old, which also caused unrest in the Selecao’s World Cup preparations.

Santos vehemently denied this. Ronaldo’s interview was “not an issue at all” among the national team, he asserted. “As (national player) Joao M├írio said yesterday: There are always four or five questions about Cristiano at our press conferences. But that (interview) has nothing to do with us at all, nothing, zero. He didn’t say anything about the national team. Here he has nobody is commenting on this topic.”

Ronaldo will not be involved in Portugal’s final World Cup friendly against Nigeria at Lisbon’s Alvalade Stadium, the coach said. The 2016 European champions meet Uruguay, Ghana and South Korea in preliminary round group H in Qatar. At the two previous World Cups, Portugal failed in the round of 16.