Portugal coach breaks silence on reports that Ronaldo threatened to leave World Cup after being benched

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, third from right, sits on the bench during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal and Switzerland, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)


Cristiano Ronaldo did not threaten to leave the World Cup after being dropped from the starting lineup to play Switzerland in the round of 16, Portugal coach Fernando Santos said Friday.

Santos did acknowledge his star player was "not happy" to be told he was not in the starting lineup in a private meeting on Tuesday after lunch, hours before the game.

Ronaldo's replacement Goncalo Ramos scored three goals in 6-1 win. The all-time leading scorer for Portugal came off the bench in the 74th minute.

"Cristiano obviously was not very happy about it. He told me 'Do you really think it's a good idea?'" Santos said one day before facing Morocco in the quarterfinals.

"He has never told me that he wanted to leave the national team," Santos said in translated comments, dismissing reports in Portuguese media. "It is time we stopped with this conversation and the controversies. He celebrated all the goals that we scored."
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"It is time for you to leave Ronaldo alone in acknowledgement of what he did for Portuguese football," the coach said.

Santos declined to say if he would change the team and restore Ronaldo to face Morocco.

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