Football: South Korean fans to sue after Juventus bench Cristiano Ronaldo in Seoul friendly

Portuguese star striker Cristiano Ronaldo remained on the bench throughout the match his Juventus side played against a K-league all-star team on July 29, 2019.
Portuguese star striker Cristiano Ronaldo remained on the bench throughout the match his Juventus side played against a K-league all-star team on July 29, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP) - More than 2,000 South Korean football fans will sue a sports agency after superstar Cristiano Ronaldo stayed on the bench when his Juventus side played a friendly in Seoul last week, a law firm said on Monday (July 29).

The Portuguese star striker did not play a single second of the match against a K-league all-star team, ignoring appeals from the sell-out 65,000 crowd at the World Cup Stadium to lace up his boots.

With frustration mounting, some even chanted the name of his great Argentinian rival Lionel Messi.

When the game was first announced, organisers said the contract with Juventus obliged Ronaldo to play for at least 45 minutes, prompting many fans to splash the cash, according to Seoul law firm Myungan.

Tickets - priced from 30,000 won (S$34) to 400,000 won (S$464) - sold out in just 2½ hours when they were released on July 3.

"So far, more than 2,000 fans have contacted us to pursue the suit," Myungan attorney Kim Hun Ki told AFP.

"We plan to officially file the suit on their behalf some time next week, if the agency does not offer a concrete plan to compensate the ticket holders before then."

The Italian team's flight from Nanjing in China was delayed so they landed only five hours before the scheduled start, delaying kick-off by an hour.

 
 
 

Juventus' Asian tour had started in Singapore on July 20, when they arrived in Singapore one day ahead of their International Champions Cup friendly against Tottenham Hotspur.

The Italians lost that match 3-2 but Ronaldo received a rapturous welcome from the crowd of 50,000 at the National Stadium in Kallang, and raised the roof when he scored and entertained the crowd with his trademark celebration.

Ms Robin Zhang, chief executive officer of The Festa, the Korean agency which arranged the game in Seoul, was in tears when she told Korean broadcaster SBS that she had complained to Juventus vice-chairman Pavel Nedved during the match.

She told SBS that he responded by saying, "I also hope Ronaldo plays. But he says he doesn't want to. I'm sorry there's nothing I can do".

She added that she would find "ways to compensate" ticket holders.

Ronaldo has been subjected to a backlash on social media.

"He betrayed the 60,000 audience and belittled us," a Korean who attended the game posted on Instagram. "I'm no longer a Ronaldo fan."