Portugal Denies Rumor Cristiano Ronaldo Wants to Leave World Cup Before Quarterfinal

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVDecember 8, 2022

LUSAIL, QATAR - DECEMBER 06: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Portugal and Switzerland at Lusail Stadium on December 6, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images)
Richard Sellers/Getty Images

The Portuguese Football Federation has denied reports that Cristiano Ronaldo planned to leave the national team after learning he was out of the starting lineup in the round of 16.

"News released this Thursday reports that Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to leave the national team during a conversation with Fernando Santos, national coach," the organization said in a statement, via the Guardian. "The FPF clarifies that at no time did the captain of the national team, Cristiano Ronaldo, threaten to leave the national team during the internship in Qatar."

Santos dropped Ronaldo as a starter for the match against Switzerland, which Portugal won 6-1. Portuguese newspaper Record (h/t Oli Gamp of the Daily Mail) reported the veteran responded by holding tense talks with Santos and wanted to leave the team before the end of the World Cup.

The national team says that is not the case and that Ronaldo has an "unquestionable degree of commitment to the national team."

Ronaldo started each of the three group-stage matches for Portugal, scoring one goal on a penalty kick. The squad had two wins and a loss, scoring six goals while winning the group.

Santos opted for a different lineup in the round of 16, replacing the 37-year-old striker with 21-year-old Gonçalo Ramos. The decision paid off as Ramos tallied a hat trick in a dominant victory as Portugal reached the quarterfinals.

Ronaldo was subbed on in the 73rd minute but did not score.

Though Portugal denies the rumors that surround Ronaldo, he has had conflicts with his coaches in recent months.

The superstar was visibly frustrated when he was subbed off in the 65th minute in the 2-1 loss to South Korea in the group stage.

"I didn't like it. Didn't like it at all," Santos said of Ronaldo's reaction after the match. "From there, it's things you sort out internally."

Manchester United also terminated his contract by mutual agreement during the World Cup after he criticized club manager Erik ten Hag in an interview with Piers Morgan.

Portugal will hope Ronaldo and the rest of the team can focus on the task at hand when they face Morocco on Saturday.