Cristiano Ronaldo’s angry reaction to being substituted in Juventus’ weekend win over AC Milan has not gone down well at all at the Serie A Champions.
After being taken off in the 55th minute of the 1-0 victory, Cristiano — who was also displeased at being replaced against Lokomotiv Moscow in midweek — walked straight down the tunnel and is reported to have left the Allianz Stadium before the final whistle. Speaking post-match, Juve coach Maurizio Sarri sought to explain the Portuguese’s anger, commenting: “He was upset because he’s not in good shape. He has a small injury to his knee.”
But despite Sarri publicly playing down the incident, reports in the Italian media say Fabio Paratici and Pavel Nedved, Juventus’ sporting director and vice-president, respectively, will sit down with Cristiano after the international break to ask him to explain his actions, and advise him against a repeat of the episode.
According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, the Bianconeri will look to resolve the matter discreetly and avoid it turning into a long-running controversy. The newspaper adds that the 34-year-old will be warned over his behaviour, but not fined.
On Monday, Cristiano took to social media with a brief message, writing: “Tough game, important win,” and accompanying the post with the hashtag #finoallfine, the Juve club motto that translates as ‘to the very end’. So far, this has been his only gesture of reconciliation. Gazzetta adds that the dressing room is still waiting for an apology from the player, who has now joined up with the Portugal squad.
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In Italy, several prominent footballing figures have reacted to the controversy, most recently Italian national-team coach Roberto Mancini. “I don’t know the situation,” he told reporters, “but the players have to respect the coach and their team-mates, whether they’re youngsters or veterans. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, you can behave badly. That can happen, and he’ll be the first to know that he’s got it wrong. He’ll say sorry.”
Drawing on his own experiences, former Italy player Antonio Cassano noted that leaving the stadium early can get players into trouble with anti-doping authorities. “You can’t do that, because there are drugs tests after the game,” he said. “I had to return quickly to the stadium (after a game against Lazio during his time as a player at Roma), to avoid being banned for two years.”
Meanwhile, ex-Juve boss Fabio Capello had harsher words for Cristiano.
“The fact that he didn’t sit on the bench and said bad words to Sarri is not a pretty picture,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“The truth is that Ronaldo has not dribbled past an opponent for three years. I remember it when he went past players and left them there. Now it doesn’t happen anymore, while Douglas Costa and (Paulo) Dybala do it.”