Head coach Fernando Santos put Ronaldo on the bench for Portugal’s 6-1 demolition of Switzerland in the round of 16.
After bad performances in the first three group-stage games, Ronaldo was dropped to the bench. There was also an angry reaction to an early substitution against South Korea that did not please Santos.
Reports emerged that Ronaldo and Santos had a heated argument, and the player threatened to leave.
Ronaldo denied the claims, and the Portuguese Football Federation has backed him.
The PFF released a statement saying: “News released this Thursday reports that Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to leave the national team during a conversation with Fernando Santos, national coach.
“The FPF clarifies that at no time did the captain of the National Team, Cristiano Ronaldo, threaten to leave the national team in Qatar.
“Cristiano Ronaldo builds up a unique track record every day at the service of the national team and the country, which must be respected and which attests to the unquestionable degree of commitment to the national team.
“Incidentally, the degree of dedication of the player most capped by Portugal was again demonstrated – if necessary – in the victory against Switzerland in the round of 16 of the 2022 World Cup.
“The National Team – players, coaches and FPF structure – is, as it has been since the first day, fully committed and enthusiastic in building what the country wants to be Portugal’s best-ever participation in a World Cup.”
All focus turns to Morocco
Portugal will hope to move on from this drama and focus on their World Cup quarter-final tie against Morocco.
The North Africans defeated a highly-touted Spain via penalties to book their place against Portugal. They are resilient and tough to break down.
However, it is unclear if Santos will be brave enough to bench Ronaldo again for the Morocco match.
The coach saw how rampant his side was against Switzerland without the brooding five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Will Santos leave hat-trick hero Goncalo Ramos in the starting XI? Or will he return to his 37-year-old, in-decline, and out-of-form captain?
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