There’s a bit of drama surrounding Portugal ahead of its 2022 FIFA World Cup round of 16 match.
Portugal manager Fernando Santos criticized superstar Cristiano Ronaldo on Monday for his reaction to being subbed off during the team’s 2-1 loss to South Korea in the group stage finale.
“I didn’t like it,” Santos told reporters via a translator. “Not at all. I really didn’t like it.”
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Ronaldo was subbed out of a 1-1 game in the 65th minute of Friday’s match against South Korea. According to ESPN’s Rob Dawson, cameras caught a visibly frustrated Ronaldo appearing to say, “He’s in a rush to sub me” as he walked off the pitch. Ronaldo also got into a verbal spat with South Korea’s Cho Gue-Sung before exiting the game.
After Portugal’s 2-1 loss, Ronaldo said his reaction was directed at Cho, not Santos.
“What happened was before my substitution, the South Korea player told me to get off quickly. I told him to shut up as he doesn’t have that authority,” Ronaldo said. “There was no disagreement [with the coach].”
Santos said he initially only saw Ronaldo arguing with Cho, but by Monday the manager had seen footage of the entire incident. He added that the matter has been “resolved behind closed doors.”
In what could be his final World Cup, Ronaldo started and wore the captain’s armband for Portgual’s three group stage games. Santos, however, wouldn’t commit to that being the case for Tuesday’s match versus Switzerland.
“I only decide who is going to be captain when I reach the stadium,” Santos said. “I still don’t know what the lineup will be. That’s what I’ve always done and that’s what I’m always going to do and it’s going to be the same tomorrow.”
Ronaldo was in the headlines for another reason on Monday as well. According to a report, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is set to sign a two-and-a-half-year deal worth a potential $200 million per season with Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr.
Ronaldo, 37, is a free agent following a messy divorce with Manchester United.
“I don’t know anything. It’s [Ronaldo’s] decision; it’s his matter, not ours,” Santos said. “Cristiano is 100% focused on the World Cup and on helping the team. That’s his focus right now. About other situations, I don’t know anything.”