KAZAN, Russia (AP) — Portugal is not worried about Cristiano Ronaldo being distracted at the Confederations Cup by talk of his possible departure from Real Madrid.
Coach Fernando Santos and some of Ronaldo’s teammates are confident the star forward won’t be affected by the buzz created by a report that said he wants to leave the Spanish club because of allegations that he defrauded the country’s tax authorities.
“Nothing is going to change,” Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio said Saturday, a day before Portugal’s Confederations Cup debut against Mexico in Kazan. “Cristiano is totally focused in helping our team. He is focused on what needs to be done here, and without a doubt he will have a great tournament.”
Ronaldo practiced normally with the rest of the team in the final training session before Sunday’s game, smiling and joking with his teammates.
“He is an example for us, the way he works, the way he plays,” Patricio said. “He is 100 percent focused on this competition and he will be helping us.”
A Spanish state prosecutor on Tuesday accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 totaling 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million), claiming he used a shell company in the Virgin Islands to hide the true amount of income made from image rights, among other means of illegally reducing the amount of tax he paid.
The Portuguese sports daily A Bola published a front-page story Friday saying that Ronaldo was upset with the accusations made against him and that his decision to leave Madrid was “irreversible.”
“I stand by Ronaldo’s character and integrity, both as a man and as an athlete,” said Santos, who coached Ronaldo when the player was a teenager in Portugal before leaving to play for Manchester United. “I have a pact with the players and we treat these personal matters away from the national team. All these issues will not affect us.”
The news of his possible departure attracted the attention of international media covering Portugal at the eight-nation competition that serves as a warm-up for next year’s World Cup.
Ronaldo has not spoken to the media in Kazan and his staff said it would not comment about the recent issues involving the player.
Last year, Ronaldo extended his contract with Madrid until June 2021, saying he wanted to end his career at the club.
He has helped Madrid win three Champions League titles.
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