Santos: Cristiano Ronaldo Was 'Insulted' by South Korea Player During World Cup Sub

Erin WalshDecember 3, 2022

AL RAYYAN, QATAR - DECEMBER 02: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal gestures during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group H match between South Korea and Portugal at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar on December 02, 2022. (Photo by Fareed Kotb/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Fareed Kotb/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Portugal fell to South Korea 2-1 in the group stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, but there was more drama on the pitch than just the loss.

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos said that superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was "insulted" by South Korea's Gue-sung Cho as he was walking off the field to be subbed off in the 65th minute.

"The player from Korea was insulting him telling him to go away, so that is the reason why he was angry, everyone saw that," Santos said, per ESPN's Rob Dawson. "I saw the interaction with the Korea player and I don't have any doubts about it and if you see the images you see Pepe went towards the Korea player.

"He was not aggressive, he was only verbally aggressive, he was speaking in English to Cristiano, and Cristiano said, 'Perhaps he had a bad day.'"

As Ronaldo was walking off the field, he got into a verbal altercation with Cho before putting his finger to his mouth. The star forward recounted the incident while speaking with reporters after the loss:

"The Korean player was telling me to leave quickly and I told him to shut up because he has no authority," Ronaldo said, per Spanish newspaper Marca.

He added: "There is no need for controversy. It's the heat of the match. Whatever happens, things always stay on the pitch. The most important thing is that we have to be united. We are in the next phase. Not only the players, but also the Portuguese people have to be confident."

South Korea midfielder In-beom Hwang tried to down play the altercation.

"I didn't see it, I was too tired," he said, per Yahoo Sports. "I was looking at the ground, so I didn't see it and I have nothing to say."

Ronaldo has been subpar through three World Cup matches. His only goal came on a penalty kick in Portugal's group stage opener against Ghana, a 3-2 win.

Despite Friday's loss to South Korea, Portugal won Group H. They were the only team to have two wins in the group. South Korea qualified for the round of 16 on goals scored ahead of Uruguay.

Portugal is set to face Switzerland on Tuesday, while South Korea will face Brazil on Monday. The Seleção surely hope Ronaldo will be more of a factor against the Swiss in their effort to reach the next round.