For the motivated and inspired, there is a nearly unending list of things you can criticize and/or laugh at Cristiano Ronaldo about. One of the few things not on that list is disputing the chiseled nature of every inch of the man’s body. And yet a Catalan TV station tried exactly that when they snuck in a curiously soft picture of Ronaldo’s typically rock-hard abs, only to be called out on it.
It was Real Madrid’s own channel, RMTV, that discovered Catalan station TV3's skullduggery. (N.B.: Catalonia is a fiercely independent region of Spain, and the area’s capital is Barcelona. For many generations, Barcelona and Real Madrid haven’t exactly been the best of friends.) Here is RMTV’s segment on TV3's trickery in its entirety:
TV3 was apparently airing a segment that sought to undermine the case for Ronaldo to win the Ballon d’Or that will certainly be his after Portugal won Euro 2016. To do so, they put on the screen a graphic of Ronaldo’s stats from the biggest games of last season:
The left side of the table lists the games in question, the first column the result of the games, the middle one how many goals Ronaldo had, and the third the individual rating his performances in those games were given by the Madrid-based sports paper AS (the TV3 presenter makes sure to clarify that they’re using AS’s ratings, not those from any of the Catalan sports papers, to avoid the charge of bias).
At first glance, everything seems on the up-and-up. It is certainly true that Ronaldo didn’t play very well against Real Madrid’s most difficult opponents last season, racking up the vast majority of his 51 goals against bottom-feeders. Good burn, TV3! And hahaha, take that, Ronaldo stans!
Had they limited their digs to the stats, everything would’ve been fine. However, as RMTV points out in the video above, there is more going on here.
First of all, TV3 calls Barça’s hated rival “Reial Madrid” instead of Real. “Reial” is the word in the Catalan language for “real,” which means “royal” in English. In the same way that the anglophone world doesn’t call them “Royal Madrid,” the Catalan-speaking TV3 probably should also just call Real Madrid Real Madrid. As one RMTV presenter brings up, it’s not like the Spanish media calls the Catalan-named Barcelona players Gerard Piqué and Jordi Alba “Gerardo” and “Jorge.” RMTV is right to read this as a jab.
The most egregious problem, though, is the picture of Ronaldo on the far left of TV3's graphic. That misshapen, undefined blob of flesh underneath Ronaldo’s lifted shirt does not at all resemble the meticulously sculpted slab of granite we’re used to seeing there. RMTV knows why: it’s because the real picture had been photoshopped.
Naturally, I admire the impulse to point out that, for as inarguably great as Ronaldo was and is, his otherwise eye-popping stats from last season don’t look quite as illustrious when put into proper context, and I’m always in favor of taking shots at Ronaldo and Real Madrid as a whole. However, you can’t doctor pictures of his abs to make him look like a chubster and expect to get away with it. It’s about ethics in Ronaldo bashing.