It hasn’t even been a full week since Cristiano Ronaldo’s camp began leaking to anyone who’d listen that he was done with Spain and had resolved to leave Real Madrid, a supposedly “irreversible” decision borne of his deep feelings of persecution because the Spanish government has taken issue with him potentially defrauding the tax man out of some €15 million. Well, so much for all that “irreversible” talk; a day after Real’s president said some nice things about the star forward in the media, Ronaldo is reportedly just about ready to kiss and make up.
Real president Florentino Pérez did some important damage control yesterday in an interview with the radio station Onda Cero. Part of Ronaldo’s motivation for agitating for a move out of Madrid was supposedly that he didn’t feel the club had backed him strongly enough after the tax stuff got serious. So in came Pérez to scratch the ornery Ronaldo’s belly and tell him how much he loves him. From ESPN FC:
“Not I nor anyone at Madrid is contemplating that Cristiano could leave the club,” Perez said. “He is not a business — he forms part of this club’s history. He’s at the level of [Madrid legend Alfredo] Di Stefano.”
“I will defend [Ronaldo] at all costs as both a player and as a person. [I have] complete confidence [that he is innocent], he has always wanted to fulfill his fiscal commitments,” Perez said.
As much this ordeal has been about Ronaldo wanting to feel supported, it’s been just as much about money—as both a distraction from the tax scandal itself (note how quickly the story has pivoted away from Ronaldo’s potentially criminal behavior and instead turned into a juicy transfer rumor sparked by the big bad media who’ve been picking on poor Ronaldo), and also as a ploy for Ronaldo to squeeze Real for another raise. To that end, Pérez too played his role to perfection.
When asked about the potential charges facing his player, the president once again reiterated his belief in Ronaldo’s innocence and brushed away the notion that this all could be what it actually is, which is a cash grab on Ronaldo’s part:
“There must be some sort of confusion which will be clarified. What I have been told is that he has the same structure [in Spain] that he had in England — and there was no problem there.
“I’m sure Cristiano wouldn’t want us to pay his fine if there was one — he’s not like that. If he’s angry it’s because he feels unjustly treated.
“I’ve been affected by how the Cristiano news has been treated by the media. The presumption of innocence has not been respected. The only thing I know is that he’s angry about the treatment the media have given him. [Ronaldo’s agent Jorge] Mendes called me and told me that.”
(Pérez’s argument that Ronaldo’s business structure was the same in Spain as it was in England is not accurate; the Spanish tax authority’s investigation into the case found that the shell company Ronaldo used to protect part of his income from Spain’s tax rate was created right as he moved from England to Spain. But far be it for facts to get in the way of a PR narrative.)
Today, Spanish paper AS got the scoop about how Pérez’s words have cheered the recently distraught player right up:
The forward, who was accompanied by his Portugal team mates when he heard Florentino’s words, said openly that he liked what the president had to say. In fact he would have liked to have heard those words sooner, but better late than never.
Later on Tuesday, Cristiano commented on a number of occasions that he felt that the Madrid president had come out to defend him was very positive. Diario AS understands that, after hearing Florentino’s reaction, Cristiano is now reconsidering his exit from Madrid, although both player and president will discuss the matter face to face after the Confederations Cup, as Florentino Pérez confirmed during his appearance on El Transistor.
Quite the turn around. All that’s left then is for Ronaldo and Pérez to meet, the club to offer him a one- or two-year contract extension with a nice big pay bump, and we’re exceedingly confident that this whole supposedly dire matter will be resolved and Ronaldo and Madrid will live happily ever after. Just like everyone knew they would.