South Korean fans are set to take legal action against Cristiano Ronaldo after he did not feature in Juventus’ preseason friendly in Seoul.
The 34-year old had an agreement with the event organizers The Fasta that he will play for at least 45 minutes in the International Champions Cup match against the K-League All-Stars on July 26.
The Italian champions landed in Seoul only five hours before the game due to flight delay which meant that they already had to cancel a signing session which involved Ronaldo. But fans were assured that the 5-time Ballon D’Or winner would take the field at the Seoul World Stadium.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo was not brought into the game by manager Maurizio Sarri as he spent the entirety of the match on the bench.
Fans took to South Korea’s Naver web portal to protest the Portuguese’s lack of participation with two members reaching out to a lawyer named Kim Min-ki to file a lawsuit against the match organizers.
Fans are reportedly seeking compensation of 70,000 won ($59) per ticket, 1,000 won for the ticket commission fee and 1,000,000 won ($847) each for the “mental anguish”.
“Many purchased tickets to see Ronaldo. The Fasta publicised that the company had a deal with Juventus, which stipulated Ronaldo would play for at least 45 minutes and that Ronaldo would hold a fan signing event,” Kim said.
“Normally in such cases, the plaintiffs will be refunded the price of the tickets, but I put this under a special case since the company, through false advertising, took advantage of the football star’s fans,” he added.
“For now, we have two plaintiffs who sued the company, but I have been getting a lot of calls today and I assume there will be some 60,000 more.
“As for the mental anguish part, I’d like to say some of them are raucous fans — the real avid fans. So for them it is very painful because they love Ronaldo and want to protect him, but they can’t, given the situation.”
The Fasta CEO Robin Jang informed local media that Ronaldo was bound to play 45 minutes due to the agreed contract, which Juventus violated. She had an argument Juventus vice-president Paul Nedved when she came to know that the forward will not play the game, 10 minutes into the second half.
“When I went to argue with Nedved, all he said was: ‘I also wish Ronaldo ran, but he doesn’t want to. Sorry, there’s nothing I can do.’ I was so frustrated,” she said.
Maurizio Sarri also defended his decision of not playing Cristiano Ronaldo after the match. “We gave room to some of the younger figures who were ready to step up. Ronaldo was very tired, so we decided to rest him,” the former Chelsea boss said.
“Ronaldo was expected to play, but he was not 100 per cent fit due to muscle fatigue. I spoke with Andrea and Ronaldo before the match and we concluded that it would be best for him to rest.”
Juventus’ reputation in South Korea has hence taken a massive toll. The Fasta also issued a press release two days ago which stated that the Serie A winners “did not abide by the terms of the contract”, and Korea’s footballing body K-League will send a letter of protest to the Italian club.