Cristiano Ronaldo in dispute with sports minister

MILAN • Cristiano Ronaldo become involved in a public row with Italy's sports minister on Friday, as the pair indirectly accused each other of lying over whether the Portugal international had broken health rules after testing positive for Covid-19.

Mr Vincenzo Spadafora said on Thursday that the Juventus forward might have infringed the rules by flying back to Italy from national team duty in Portugal, after he tested positive for the virus earlier last week.

But, in a social media post on Friday, Ronaldo hit back and said he had done everything by the book.

"A gentlemen here in Italy, whose name I won't mention, said I didn't obey the protocol - that's simply a lie," he said in an Instagram post from his Turin villa, where he is in quarantine and asymptomatic.

"I followed all the protocols and I will continue to follow them, my conscience is clear... Everything I did was authorised."

He tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday while he was with the Portugal squad and flew back in a private jet the following day.

"They said I broke Italian law and this and that... it's all lies, I did everything properly," he added.

"We did everything the right way - leaving the (Portugal) team, in the air ambulance, arriving in Turin... I did not have contact with anyone."

Mr Spadafora later replied in an interview with the Italian news agency Ansa, saying: "The fame and skill of certain players does not entitle them to be arrogant, disrespectful to the institutions and to lie.

"On the contrary, the more well known you are, the more you should feel the responsibility of setting a good example."

Juventus said on Thursday that Ronaldo returned to Italy in a "medical flight authorised by the competent health authorities".

SHOW SOME RESPECT

The fame and skill of certain players does not entitle them to be arrogant, disrespectful to the institutions and to lie.

MR VINCENZO SPADAFORA, Italy's sports minister, on Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

The entire Juve team were back in isolation on Wednesday evening after midfielder Weston McKennie tested positive.

Both he and Ronaldo must test negative before rejoining their teammates. Under Uefa rules, a player must provide evidence that he is no longer sick a week before a European match.

Ronaldo, who misses Juve's Serie A match with Crotone yesterday and their Champions League opener against Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday, must test negative on Wednesday to play against Barcelona and old foe Lionel Messi a week later.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 18, 2020, with the headline 'Ronaldo in dispute with sports minister'. Print Edition | Subscribe