Cristiano Ronaldo has disputed claims that he wanted to quit the World Cup after being dropped for Portugal’s last-16 tie against Switzerland.
In a statement on social media, Ronaldo declared that the squad is “too strong to be broken by outside forces” with the Portuguese football federation also issuing a denial.
Coach Fernando Santos hit out at Ronaldo’s behaviour after the 37-year-old was substituted during the group game defeat to South Korea but later insisted his decision to drop him was not disciplinary.
However the Portuguese sports newspaper, Record, then claimed that Ronaldo had threatened to fly home. Record said that Ronaldo, who is Portugal’s captain, had told Santos he might leave after being informed he was not starting against Switzerland before he calmed down and realised his departure could have a negative impact on the team.
In response to the report, Ronaldo wrote: “A group too close to be broken by outside forces. A nation too brave to let itself be frightened by any adversary. A team in the truest sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end! Believe in us! Strength, Portugal!”
Earlier the Portuguese federation rejected the newspaper report and defended Ronaldo. “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 during the internship 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."
After beating Switzerland, Santos said that Ronaldo’s role for the rest of the World Cup has to be “defined”.