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“Why I benched Ronaldo at the World Cup” — Portugal coach



"Why I benched Ronaldo at the World Cup" -- Portugal coach

Former Portugal manager Fernando Santos has shed light on his decision to bench Cristiano Ronaldo during crucial knockout games in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, citing tactical and technical considerations as the primary factors behind the surprising move.

Ronaldo, the iconic captain and forward for Al-Nassr, found himself on the sidelines during Portugal’s pivotal matches against South Korea in the Round of 16 and Morocco in the quarterfinals, a move that reverberated shockwaves across the footballing world.

Addressing the contentious decision during his unveiling as the new Besiktas manager, Santos clarified his stance, stating,

“It was a tactical and technical decision. There was no other situation. Strategic decisions are always the most important things for me.

“I had to make these decisions and I made them correctly. If we had not been eliminated from the World Cup, there would have been no problem.”

Emphasizing the communication with Ronaldo, Santos disclosed,

“I told him that he was not going to start in the Round of 16. He was not happy with the conversation, as is normal. But I assure you that he never wanted to leave.”

The exclusion of Ronaldo, an unprecedented move given his status as a global football icon, sparked widespread debate and speculation during the tournament. Santos, known for his methodical approach, remains resolute in defending his decision.