Fernando Santos has said he was deeply unimpressed with Cristiano Ronaldo’s behavior as the forward left the pitch against South Korea and refused to guarantee that the 37-year-old would captain Portugal in Tuesday’s last-16 tie against Switzerland. The head coach insists Ronaldo has been dealt with following his latest outburst but considers the case closed.
Ronaldo reacted angrily after being withdrawn midway through the second half of Friday’s defeat by South Korea. He put an index finger to his lips as he left the field and later said he was irked by the opposition striker Cho Gue-sung for asking him to speed up his exit. “Before my substitution, one of their players was telling me to leave quickly,” Ronaldo said. “I told him to shut up, he has no authority, he doesn’t have to say anything.”
Asked about Ronaldo’s substitution at a press conference on Tuesday, Santos said: “Have I seen the images? Yes, I didn’t like it, not at all. I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it. But from that moment onwards everything is finished regarding that issue. These matters are resolved behind closed doors. It’s resolved. Full stop on this matter and now everyone is focused on tomorrow’s match.”
Santos would not confirm whether Ronaldo would captain Portugal. “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. The other topic is solved. We have fixed that in-house and that’s it.”
Ronaldo became the first player to score in five World Cups when he converted a penalty against Ghana in their Group H opener. A free agent after leaving Manchester United, he is giving serious thought to a lucrative offer to join the Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr. Ronaldo has received a formal proposal that would pay almost €200m (£173m) a season on a contract until 2025.
“That is his decision – that’s what he has to deal with,” Santos said of Ronaldo’s future. “We are totally focused on the World Cup. That’s all that we talked about.”