Earlier today, Portugal’s national team manager, Fernando Santos, and the country’s soccer federation president, Fernando Gomes, competed to see who could be the biggest, most tone-deaf moron when they each offered their commentary on the rape allegation attached to Cristiano Ronaldo. Not content with leaving those two shitbrains to wrestle for that ignominious mantle themselves, Juventus swooped in out of nowhere to join the fray.
The current rape allegation surrounding Ronaldo—and it’s good to remember that this latest one is the second accusation of sexual assault the Portuguese soccer star has faced, the first being a 2005 incident in which a woman said Ronaldo and another man raped her in the penthouse suite of a London hotel; Ronaldo was arrested and questioned then, but charges weren’t brought due to insufficient evidence—first emerged more than a year ago. In April of 2017, German magazine Der Spiegel released documents that detailed an out-of-court settlement between Ronaldo and a then-unnamed woman from 2010 that paid the woman $375,000 in exchange for her silence on an incident during which she said Ronaldo raped her in the penthouse suite of a Las Vegas hotel.
Ronaldo’s lawyers got all blustery, calling the story “a piece of journalistic fiction” and threatening lawsuits, but nothing substantive or exculpatory ever came from it. Ronaldo never brought a suit against Der Spiegel, and the magazine even published another article that directly contradicted a crucial aspect of Ronaldo’s contention that the original documents were fake or at least had nothing to do with him. None of that mattered, of course, since the bluster was successful and most of the soccer world used Ronaldo’s handlers’ loud but empty defenses of their client as permission to go on pretending like nothing had happened.
Then, last week Der Spiegel came out with another article. This time the woman behind the original settlement came forward and gave her full account of the night she says Ronaldo raped her, and announced that she had brought a new lawsuit against Ronaldo. Las Vegas police have reopened the criminal case into the rape as well. For likely a slew of reasons, this time the accusation has proven harder for Ronaldo and his handlers to hand-wave away, which brings us to today.
Today, Portugal national team manager Fernando Santos announced his squad today ahead of next week’s international break. Cristiano Ronaldo’s name was absent. It might not otherwise be notable for the manager to spare Ronaldo the extra travel and exertion that comes with international play, not when the matches in question are more or less meaningless. However, with Mayorga’s accusation against Ronaldo still so thick in the air, and Santos’s odd decision to announce that Ronaldo would be skipping not only this upcoming international break, but also the following one in November, Ronaldo’s absence seemed suspicious.
“[Federation] president Fernando Gomes and I spoke with Cristiano Ronaldo,” Santos said to the media today, per ESPN FC, “and we considered it best for the player not to be included in this and November’s call-ups.” Rather than leaving things there, or maybe saying something safe like “I’ve heard the allegations against Ronaldo but I don’t know enough about the facts or evidence to weigh in on that at this point in time,” Santos jumped all the way out there by proclaiming his player’s innocence as if Santos had a single clue what happened that night almost ten years ago:
“I personally always support my players, and this is not even a question of solidarity, but I believe what the player said publicly. He considers rape to be an abominable crime and clearly reaffirms that he is innocent of what he is being accused of. I know Cristiano well and I fully believe he would not commit a crime like that.”
Gomes, the federation president, did Santos one better when he placed his own reputation and that of the entire Portuguese soccer federation behind Ronaldo:
“In my name and that of the Portuguese football federation, I express my complete solidarity for Cristiano Ronaldo at a time when his good name and reputation is being called into question,” Gomes said. “I believe in the words he issued [on Wednesday], not only because I defend the presumption of innocence as the basic principle of a state of law, but also because I have known Ronaldo for many years and I am a witness of his good character.”
These statements alone would have been enough to cause the international soccer scene plenty of well-deserved internal shame for the statements’ callous disregard for the gravity of the situation at hand. But no, the game of soccer would be humiliated even more when the official twitter accounts of Juventus, both the Italian and English ones, offered the public these words of support for a man credibly accused of rape:
It’s unclear which contestant here—Santos, Gomes, or Juventus—deserves to win the award for biggest dumbass, but what is incontestable is that human society as a whole is the big loser.