Portugal’s talismanic player, Cristiano Ronaldo has been dropped from the team’s squad preparing to face Poland and Scotland in the European Nations League.
It is not immediately clear why Coach Fernando Santos omitted the star’s name, but speculations are rife that it may be connected with the unfolding rape charge against Ronaldo.
But the player has issued a denial over allegations he sexually assaulted the woman in question.
The coach, not being categorical was quoted by UK’s Daily Mail as saying that “’In the future, nothing prevents Cristiano from giving his contribution to the national team”.
Coach Fernando Santos was also quoted in posts on the national team’s official Twitter feed that Ronaldo would not be called up for the next round of fixtures either.
Santos said the decision was taken after a three-way conversation between him, Ronaldo and the head of the Portuguese FA. He refused to give details of the conversation, nor would he comment on Ronaldo’s state of mind, saying the information was private and personal.
The 33-year-old Ronaldo has issued a strong denial over allegations he sexually assaulted a woman in Las Vegas in 2009.
Kathryn Mayorga, a 34-year-old teacher who was an aspiring model at the time of the alleged assault, claims Ronaldo raped her in a bathroom at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in the early hours of June 13, 2009.
Court papers claimed he attacked her even though she was screaming ‘No, no, no!’
Ronaldo pictured with Kathryn Mayorga, now 34, in the Las Vegas nightclub in 2009. Police in the city have reopened allegations of sexual assault against the footballer.
Ronaldo, 33, dismissed her claim as ‘fake news’ and reasserted this in a Twitter message posted on Wednesday afternoon.
He wrote: ‘I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me. Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in.
‘Keen as I may be to clear my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense.
‘My clear conscious [sic] will thereby allow me to await with tranquillity the results of any and all investigations.’
Among Portugal’s forwards for the international double-header are Eder, who scored the winner in the Euro 2016 final against France, and Wolves’ Helder Costa who receives a first senior call-up.
‘Eder was always being observed and this time we felt he should be called up,’ Santos added.
‘The players are very motivated to play these matches for the national team.
‘Right now we are in a positive position in the Nations League and with victory we will take an important step.’