What to make of all the rumors flooding the internet that Cristiano Ronaldo refused to exchange jerseys with Israeli players?
The video above clearly shows that CR7 made no gesture to taking off his shirt and offering it in exchange to any player from the Israeli squad.
The match was very intense and Portugal nearly lost the game to Israel but were able to come back from a 3-1 deficit to end the match in a 3-3 draw.
From the actions (or lack thereof) of CR7 stripping himself of his shirt (which he normally has no problem in doing when the situation calls for it) lead many in twitterverse and social media to exclaim that his reluctance to exchange his shirt was a bold political statement on opposition of the oppression of Palestinians at the hands of Israel.
Football is deeply politicized yet no major football agency has picked up on this story.
I appreciate that eager fans are hoping this will propel him further into Super stardom However, it is also possible that he was just upset over a fiery match.
This video depicts him being intensely engaged in match and also upset at a few calls. Perhaps him not swapping his shirt has more to do with his own feeling towards the match and his teams’ recent lackluster performance than anything regarding in the Middle East.
Portugal desperately needed to end their run of not winning any of their last four World Cup qualifying matches. They have beaten Luxembourg and Azerbaijan and tied Northern Ireland and also Gabon. They have lost to Russia and Ecuador in a friendly.
Portugal, whose Captain is arguably the most recognized football player in the world, is undeniably frustrated in this process. Particularly as Portugal Coach Bento stated “We could say this was a point won, but if we look at the quality of the match we might say as well these were two points lost”.
It seems as it the Team Captain agrees.
In this case, NOT swapping jerseys may be the result of his irritation as opposed to a statement of protest as some would have liked to believe.
In this instance, no media outlet reported said CR7 drama, but many supporters are hailing Cristiano Ronaldo as a front line activist for the Palestinian Cause.
He has a very public history of being highly competitive.
Also this particular meeting between Portugal and Israel has already been marred with some controversy after Israel asked (in vain) that the match date be changed so that it did not fall on Sabbath- the Jewish day of rest.
Furthermore, as a colleague of mine pointed out, if Ronaldo was really boycotting Israel and unhappy, why would he travel to play against them?
Nevertheless, Ronaldo and his squad shook hands with all the players, thanked them and walked off the pitch, jersey on.
Even took the below picture photo with Youssi Benayoun. Hardly the actions of a player in defiance and in sheer protest.
It may be exciting to hypothesize as to all the juicy reasons why, but the reality is quite simple: He didn’t want to take his shirt off.
Fret not! I am sure we will be seeing his ripped chest soon enough.
That is all.