After Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo failed to take the field for Saturday’s highly anticipated exhibition match in Seoul, fans shared their disappointment online, stoking further public anger against the Portuguese player.
Some said they had spent a lot of money, traveled hours to get to Seoul and waited hours in humid, drizzly conditions to get tickets ― all for nothing.
Others compared Ronaldo’s Seoul trip to his Chinese visit before Korea. He played for his Italian club against Inter Milan, also from Italy’s Serie A, in Nanjing, on July 24, in the International Champions Cup. He played the full 90 minutes, scoring from a free-kick in the first half. Juventus beat Inter 5-4 in a penalty shootout after the 1-1 draw.
Some Koreans referred to Ronald’s no-show as “Korean passing” in comparison to his latest Chinese visit.
A woman claimed online she had bought two VIP tickets for the exhibition match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Mapo District to watch Ronaldo and Juventus playing the K League All Stars on July 26.
She said the tickets cost almost as much as her monthly wage, but she bought them to watch the game with her brother, who has been hospitalized in Busan for three years.
She said her brother, a “mad fan” of Ronaldo, jumped with excitement on a hospital bed when told about the tickets and received a doctor’s approval to go to the game.
Another person, 30, claiming to be a salary man from Busan and a Ronaldo fan, said online he spent “400,000 won ($337) that is a lot out of my monthly wage and a round-trip public transport ticket worth 100,000 won.”
Having waited until the last minute of the match hoping to see Ronaldo take the field, he said he was “feeling so empty, and after waiting for days to see him, I felt deep shame” on the way home.
“It’s a shame I spent almost 800,000 won for my Seoul visit,” the anonymous person said in an online community on Naver, Saturday. “I have been calling Ronaldo ‘my best player’ and now return home having lost that best player.”
Korean agency TheFasta signed a contract with Juventus in April for the exhibition match and a pre-match fan meeting involving Ronaldo in Seoul. The contract included a clause that Ronaldo would play at least 45 minutes.
According to the Korean professional football league authority K League, the contract also included a clause that allows Juventus to rest Ronaldo if he had an injury or for another unavoidable reason, but the Italian club was required to notify South Korean officials if this were to occur.
TheFasta said Saturday Ronaldo’s no-show was “unexpected” because his name was on the hand-written entry roster the club provided two hours before kickoff.
“After finding out that Ronaldo’s name was not on the second half squad list, we requested Juventus to play Ronaldo as written in the contract,” the agency said. “The club told us that the manager and the player knew about the clause, but Ronaldo could not play because of his physical condition. Juventus didn’t respond to our calls later.”
Juventus manager Mauricio Sarri said at the post-match press conference he did not play Ronaldo because of the player’s muscle problem. But the K League said no one from Juventus or the agency had given notice that Ronaldo would not play.
The K League said it would seek compensation from TheFasta. The agency said it would keep questioning Juventus about the contract violation.
Saturday’s exhibition match, which ended in a 3-3 draw, attracted about 63,000 people. The match was postponed for almost an hour because Juventus players were late due to a flight delay from China and a traffic jam in Seoul due to rain. The pre-match fan meeting was canceled.
Ronaldo stayed on the Juventus bench throughout the match, resulting in angry fans chanting the name of Lionel Messi, the Argentinean football star often referred to as Ronaldo’s rival.