Rugby's gentlemanly nature can't be used as stick to beat Cristiano Ronaldo with after referee spat

Dan Owen 3/07/2018
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As the clock ticked into injury time on Saturday night and it became abundantly clear his World Cup dream was over, Cristiano Ronaldo snapped.

A decision had gone against Portugal, and the man who carried the hopes of a nation could take it no more.

He stormed to within a couple of inches of referee Cesar Arturo Ramos Palazuelos’ face, unleashing a tirade of fury with real vitriol.

It earned him a meaningless booking. A yellow card which would have meant he missed the quarter final should Portugal had done the impossible and rescue themselves with only a couple of minutes remaining. Ronaldo knew that was never going to be the case, if there was a glimmer of opportunity, he would never have risked such sanction.

This was an outpouring, the final light from a start which was about to burn out, for this tournament at least.

It was a show of indignation, and an act which could have been better directed to any one of his team-mates, or even a mirror. The Mexican in black had not cost Portugal their quarter-final berth after all. But, this was the easier option.

It also provided fuel for the flames of an age-old argument of how referees in football are treated.

An instance of a football referee being abused by a player, is a particularly interesting one when it comes to the perception of it from other sports.

There isn’t another event on the sports field which brings others onto their high horse to look down.

The ‘holier than thou’ attitude from others is regular as clockwork.

One of the main proponents of this is rugby. A sport which for years has prided itself on respecting the referee, calling them ‘sir’, and quietly turning the other cheek when a decision goes against you.

It is a laudable approach, and one which has taught players both young and old the importance of officials and the role they play in the sport, and long may it continue.

However, they are not whiter than white. In recent times, we have seen elements creeping into the game which we would not want to see. Play acting and diving has been one, back chat to the referee has been another.

Yes, it’s not to the level of football, but people in glass houses and all that.

Ultimately issues for individual sports are exactly that, and even if incidents may look similar, they are far from it.

Could you ever recreate the scenario Ronaldo had gone through for the lead-up and during Saturday’s game with Uruguay, in a rugby setting?

The intense media invasion, the national expectation, the pressure he puts on himself to carry his country in the world’s premiere football competition.

Could you then guarantee players in other sports would not lash out in the same way?

There is no disputing, abuse of officials, in any sport is a blot on the game, but it is down to the individual sports to get their house in order.

It’s not a time for the sanctimonious, as ultimately everyone has some element of their game they would not be entirely proud of.

Indeed, lessons can be learned from others but if football is going to clean up its act then it is the sole responsibility of the governing bodies to do so.

In their eyes, punishment will fit the crime. And if they are happy that abuse of the referee it only worthy of a booking, then who are we to argue?

Does this say more about them, and the level of esteem they hold on officials?

It may not be something we agree with, but it’s hard to see a widespread resolution of such a contentious subject any time soon.

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Watch: 'Cristiano Ronaldo is the best', says Portugal's Jose Fonte

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Portugal defender Jose Fonte believes Cristiano Ronaldo is the best and will always continue to be the best for his team.

Ronaldo has scored four goals so far in World Cup 2018 and is leading the race for the Golden Boot.

And speaking ahead of Portugal’s game against Iran, Fonte emphasized how important Ronaldo is for the team and how he continues to break records one after the other.

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Cristiano Ronaldo says Portugal can still improve following 1-0 win over Morocco

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Cristiano Ronaldo says Portugal still have plenty of room for improvement, despite their 1-0 success over Morocco on Wednesday.

The Real Madrid legend’s fourth-minute bullet header, his fourth goal of the tournament, was enough for his nation to climb to the top of Group B in the World Cup.

“I’m very happy. The most important thing was to win the game and to get the three points,” Ronaldo said after a hard-fought victory.

“We knew if we lost we could be out. We knew Morocco would be giving their all. It was a surprise at the start because they were so strong.

“I managed to score a goal, it was great for me.”

Portugal’s final group stage encounter is against Iran on June 25 in Saransk, and Ronaldo hopes his team can top their group.

“Our expectation is to continue our work and try to improve in the group phase,” Ronaldo said.

“We’re almost there (knockout stages) and then we’ll see. We’ll take things match after match. We will try to come first in the group.” 

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