Cristiano Ronaldo has insisted he wears the Portugal captain’s armband with pride, and that he threw it to the ground in anger because “an entire nation is being harmed.”
Portugal’s World Cup qualifier with Serbia on Saturday ended in controversy, as Ronaldo appeared to have a legitimate goal not given in injury time.
He reacted furiously at the final whistle, and stormed down the tunnel after tossing the armband away following a 2-2 draw.
Portugal had let a two-goal lead slip, but launched a late attack and Ronaldo thought he had scored a dramatic winner when stabbing a shot beyond Serbia goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic.
He set off in celebration, at the moment the ball was hooked clear by Serbia defender Stefan Mitrovic.
Ronaldo was convinced the ball had crossed the line, and TV replays appeared to back up that assessment, but the referee’s assistant did not give the goal.
After continuing his protests, Ronaldo was cautioned by referee Danny Makkelie, and shortly afterwards he stormed off the pitch – leaving his armband behind.
The legendary forward’s reaction raised eyebrows, especially the jettisoning of his armband, and he took to Instagram to explain his actions.
“Being captain of the Portugal team is one of the greatest privileges of my life and fills me with pride,” Ronaldo said. “I always give and will give everything for my country, that will never change.
“But there are difficult times to deal with, especially when we feel that an entire nation is being harmed.”
Portugal face Luxembourg on Tuesday and Ronaldo issued a rallying call.
“Lift your head and face the next challenge now,” he said. “Come on, Portugal.”
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