Friday, December 3

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return should provoke awkward conversations and cheers | Cristiano Ronaldo


CRistiano Ronaldo could very well return for Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday. In the field or not, all cameras will be fixed on it. Each section. Every light jog. Each side foot pass. Every step. Every perfect header.

If he is what Manchester United needs is another question, but for the club and the Premier League he is an incredible signing. Thirty-six years old, he continues to break records, he continues to generate headlines, he continues to demand the numbers.

I am still an ultra Messi, moved much more by players who give the impression that they are playing three and against a garage door. Dame Berbatov and Hoddle on players who seem to have had to hone their craft.

Ronaldo has perfected his to such an extent that he is the epitome of an elite athlete. Beyond talent: work ethic, desire to win, determination. It’s exhausting even thinking about that kind of dedication.

Understandable excitement signal upon arrival. “He’s a great player, a great human being,” said Ole Gunnar Solskjær. “Wow wow wow. He’s home.” Marcus Rashford tweeted. Jesse lingard posted an incredibly cute photo of him as a kid on the United youth team with a teenage Ronaldo watching. United fans have been lining up outside the club store to get a new jersey with the number 7. It will be fascinating to see if it works.

However, there is a more troublesome side to the almost universal delight with which it has been greeted. A rape allegation against him in 2009, first reported by Der Spiegel in 2017, has been noted for its absence from most of the coverage since signing.

In June 2009, Ronaldo met Kathryn Mayorga at a bar in Las Vegas. They ended up in a group of people in their hotel apartment. Mayorga claims that Ronaldo raped her. Ronaldo has consistently denied the allegations. He claims that they had consensual sex. Der Spiegel’s reports in 2017 and 2018 use a collection of articles and documents recovered as part of the Football Leaks story. Ronaldo has described those documents as an invention.

Later, in 2009, Ronaldo’s attorneys paid Mayorga $ 375,000 as part of a confidentiality agreement. In 2018, Ronaldo’s lawyers said: “This agreement is in no way a confession of guilt… Cristiano Ronaldo simply followed the advice of his advisers to put an end to the scandalous accusation against him, precisely to avoid attempts, such as we are witnessing now, to destroy a reputation built on hard work, athleticism, and correct behavior. “

In September 2018, Mayorga waived her right to anonymity. Las Vegas police re-investigated the allegations, but decided they could not “be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” Mayorga has filed a civil lawsuit in the US for assault, willful infliction of emotional distress, coercion, fraud, abuse of a vulnerable person, extortion, defamation, abuse of process, negligence, and breach of contract.

In October 2018 Ronaldo tweeted: “I firmly deny the accusations that are being made against me. Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything I am and what I believe in. As eager as I may be to clear my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense. “

Cristiano Ronaldo talks to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
Cristiano Ronaldo talks to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Photography: Manchester United

How do we navigate this part of Ronaldo’s story? Is it wrong to mention it now, on the eve of your return? Is it wrong to mention it to remind people of an accusation that did not end in a conviction or criminal trial? You can’t mention it a little bit. During a broadcast, how do you change the subject from: “What does this mean for Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood?” a: “Well, are there these accusations …”?

Sport is entertainment, it is an escape. Whether you sit on your couch for Super Sunday or take your place at the Stretford End, it’s two hours where you don’t have to think about the complexities of life. It is precisely the moment when you do not want to have a moral conflict.

But if we want sport to be for everyone, then we need to be able to have tough conversations. When we talk about our heroes, we must analyze them in their entirety: their strengths and weaknesses, their potential vulnerabilities and their shortcomings.

I’ve been in radio studios wistfully discussing Mike Tyson’s supreme boxing talents while thinking the whole time: he’s a convicted rapist. In the hours and days after Kingsley Coman triumphed for Bayern Munich in the 2020 Champions League final, very few people mentioned their admission of guilt for hitting the mother of his son in 2017.

With Tyson (a conviction) and Coman (an admission) the case is demonstrably clearer than with Ronaldo. But soccer, and elite sport, has a difficult relationship with reports of sexual and domestic violence. Despite the amount of work that still needs to be done on racism, sexism, homophobia, and corruption, those conversations happen.

This problem extends to the viewing audience as well. In July, the London School of Economics’ Economic Performance Center published an article that suggested that the initial beginnings were causing more people to hit their partners.

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“What we actually substitute is a visible crime type for an invisible crime,” said Tom Kirchmaier, surveillance director for the LSE’s Crime Investigation Group. “There is less crime in the stadium and so on, but he has problems more than eight hours later at home.” More men who go to football, get pissed off, go home and beat up their teammates.

I am excited for Ronaldo. I’m excited to see what he does for Manchester United. But soccer has to carefully analyze its culture.

So what do we do? Support charities like Help for women. Listen to them. And be prepared to commit to them.




www.theguardian.com

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