By Michael Graham
When Cristiano Ronaldo headed to the World Cup with Portugal, he was probably hoping to dominate the headlines. Even him. Just not in the way he would have liked.
His World Cup came to an unceremonious halfway point when he was dropped from Portugal’s squad for their last 16 games against Switzerland.
Why did Portugal make that decision, though, and how surprised should anyone have been?
Why was Ronaldo eliminated for Portugal at the World Cup?
Ultimately, only coach Fernando Santos knows the answer to that question, but he certainly wasn’t happy with the striker.
In Portugal’s final group match, a 2-1 defeat by South Korea, Ronaldo started but was substituted in the second half. He was caught on camera as he put a finger to his lip in a “ssh” gesture and then cursed.
However, it was widely interpreted as a tantrum at being taken away Ronaldo he claimed it was directed at South Korean player Cho Gue-sung instead.
“Before my substitution, one of their players told me to leave quickly,” Ronaldo explained after the match.
“I told him to shut up, he has no authority, he doesn’t have to say anything.”
That appears not to have gone down well with Santos, though, who used his pre-Switzerland press conference to express his unhappiness with Ronaldo.
“Have I seen the pictures? Yes, I didn’t like it, not at all. I did not like it. I really didn’t like it. resolved behind closed doors. It’s settled. I focus on this matter and now everyone is focused on tomorrow’s match.”
A reporter asked Santos if Ronaldo could be stripped of the captaincy, but he wouldn’t even commit to saying he would be in the squad.
“I just decide who will be captain when I get to the stadium,” Santos said.
“I don’t know yet what the line-up will be. It’s what I’ve always done and it’s what I’ll always do and tomorrow it’ll be the same. The other issue is resolved. We’ve resolved the internal one and that’s it.”
Could Ronaldo have been eliminated for poor performance?
It’s a serious possibility. The incident with Cho may have just been a coincidence or the excuse Santos was looking for to bring down Ronaldo. It wasn’t exactly on fire al world Cup.
Ronaldo scored in Portugal’s win over Ghana in their first match to become the first man to score in five different World Cups, but it was a highly controversial penalty which he won himself.
He was poor in the 2-0 win against Uruguay but once again dominated the headlines trying to claim Bruno Fernandes’ opener when technology showed he never touched it.
It’s also worth mentioning that this all came against the backdrop of his departure from Manchester United following a successful unauthorized interview in which he heavily criticized the club.
He has, therefore, provided many distractions and attracted many damaging headlines without really delivering on the pitch, so Santos may have simply decided that he has become more of a problem than his input was worth.
This article was originally posted on 90min.com as Why was Cristiano Ronaldo eliminated by Portugal for his World Cup draw with Switzerland?.
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