Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to his former club Manchester United became a much-celebrated affair amongst the football fans across the world. However, the fanfare and the celebration also once again brought to the forefront a much less talked about part about the footballer’s life. One that is often conveniently forgotten.

Ronaldo has been accused of raping American model Kathryn Mayorga in the past. Ronaldo himself had signed a witness statement that said he had persisted and had sex with Mayorga despite her saying ‘no’ repeatedly. The incident dates back to 2009. The initial charges against Ronaldo were dropped following an out-of-court settlement – one that depended on Mayorga’s silence, which was paid for by the footballer.

Also read: Revisiting The False Narrative Of The Oppression Of Cristiano Ronaldo

In the past few weeks, social media has been abuzz with those that have now taken up the role of self-proclaimed defendants of Cristiano Ronaldo, lashing out at anyone that tries to talk about the issue and bring it to public knowledge. Cries of “we separate the art from the artist”, “he is an inspiration”, “he does so much charity work” have been floating around, as rape apologists have been constantly trying to justify sexual assault because the perpetrator is a popular, privileged individual like Ronaldo.

Many of those trying to actually counter the victim-blaming narrative against Kathryn Mayorga and call out the normalising of such sexual violence have had to witness the harshest side of social media trolling by Ronaldo apologists. And some of the arguments that were given, were absolutely bizarre. We decided to make a reference sheet for all Ronaldo rape apologist arguments, so that this important conversation does not stop here.

Many of those trying to actually counter the victim-blaming narrative against Kathryn Mayorga and call out the normalising of such sexual violence have had to witness the harshest side of social media trolling by Ronaldo apologists.

“But Ronaldo is a brilliant footballer. That’s what he is famous for. Let’s focus on that”

The age-old debate of “separating art from the artist” will come swiftly as one of the very first responses from apologists. But, the reason that Ronaldo walks free is because of the social capital and privilege he has amassed and position that he enjoys. Men in positions of power for long have been able to silence all sorts of criticism against them. The case of Cristiano Ronaldo is no different. His social and financial capital allowed him to go on and move on with his life. It allowed him to keep playing, get contracts. Nothing stopped. It also allowed him to pay and silence the survivor. Just because he is a great player doesn’t mean he can get away with rape, right? Think about it.

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“You can’t ignore Ronaldo’s side of the story. She was a gold-digger. If it was true, why did she not do anything about it? She must have liked it.”

This is a classic ‘victim blaming’ narrative. The survivor’s trauma gets trivialised just by virtue of the fact that she accused ‘Ronaldo’. And the entire cis-het male fandom shifts the entire focus from Ronaldo’s act of sexual violence to how the #MeToo movement is responsible for this. Cristiano Ronaldo, with his access to social and economic capital, escaped the law because his money silences the claims and could pay off people to keep shut. That’s the real story and it’s not a secret. This fact has been in public knowledge. Ronaldo himself has agreed to it. Nobody benefits from invalidating the survivor’s experience.  

“The incident happened years back. Ronaldo is a changed man now. He does a lot of charity work.”

Talking about Ronaldo’s present charity work to invisibilize the sexual assault committed by him, is not just bizarre but also incorrect and problematic. Many use his charity work to “defend” and also “reclaim” his image. But one must not forget that Cristiano Ronaldo’s charity work, the donations, all of it is an outcome of the class privilege that he enjoys. In this case, not only do we need to hold Ronaldo accountable but also question the system that allows him to do so. Ronaldo’s public acts of generosity cannot and will not delegitimize sexual assault committed by him.

Most Charitable Sport Stars: Ronaldo Tops the List - Cross Barriers
One must not forget that Cristiano Ronaldo’s charity work, the donations, all of it is an outcome of the class privilege that he enjoys. Image Source: Crossbarriers.org

“Why would Ronaldo rape someone? He can get anyone he wants.”

Rape or any kind of sexual assault is about dominance and power. It exists not just at the intersection of gender but also has many driving factors which include class, privilege, social image, financial position, cultural identity, among others. People like Ronaldo enjoy the admiration of millions of people and are those who are not used to people saying ‘no’ to them, because they feel entitled to their ‘yes’. And when someone does refuse, they are probably less likely to listen to it.

“Both things are true. He is an inspiring footballer and also a criminal. It is a grey area and cannot be looked at as two binary points.”

So, there isn’t any binary point at all. It is pretty much clear and not grey area either. The hero-worshipping of an individual, especially sportspersons like Cristiano Ronaldo, often tends to overlook any negativity around them. Football might be his profession, but as an individual, he is a sexual offender, a rapist, someone who violated consent. Ronaldo’s popularity washes off any accountability for his actions. And that is wrong. Cristiano Ronaldo is a criminal who happens to be a footballer.

The hero-worshipping of an individual, especially sportspersons like Cristiano Ronaldo, often tends to overlook any negativity around them. Football might be his profession, but as an individual, he is a sexual offender, a rapist, someone who violated consent.

The amount of questioning, cross-questioning, and scrutiny that a woman must go through after coming out in public and talking about sexual assault, shows how society already assumes a certain narrative that will protect the perpetrator, especially when they are someone with the social capital of Cristiano Ronaldo. By supporting and defending Ronaldo, every fan out there is being a rape apologist and being part of this toxic system that will go to any length to silence the survivor’s narrative.

Also read: Ronaldo And Male Privilege: Does Idolisation Make You Immune To Everything?

About the author(s)

Shriya is a former student of literature with an interest in human rights. She can be found watching world war movies or listening to Ali Sethi and Noori. She enjoys a good cup of black coffee multiple times a day and is often compared to 'Casper, the friendly ghost'.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Let me clear something to you..if people like you can make up a reference sheet of ‘rape apologist’ arguments as you said, why not make a reference sheet of people shamelessly claiming he is a rapist when the evidences are not seeming to be true and der spiegel has a long history of fake articles???of course you won’t do that..you are FeMiNiSts…justice only to women…that’s your policy…kindly move away from this platform..you people are a disgrace to the society…this is not establishing equality between genders…rather playing the ‘believe woman’ card…disgraceful

    • I was going to write a detailed reply addressing all your ???’s. but then I realized, nothing I say is going to change your mind. You have somehow convinced yourself that- the several time’s women have come forward with accusations against him, the reports and leaks that have come forward (and mind you, his own admittance) are false and biased. And the only truth is the one uttered by this man. And yes! Justice to Women!

  2. Hey guys!
    I was wondering on what basis have you guys made judgements on the guilt/innocence of a man prior to any legal conclusion.
    The only substance which I was able to find was -” Ronaldo has access to large amounts of capital so he has better chances of getting an acquittal”.
    But even that’s speculative at best.

  3. What a one-sided article !!!
    He has been acquitted by the court due to insufficient evidence.
    This article proves that an allegation of this scale can have massive impact on a man’s life. The court of law, which is the highest authority to determine an abominable crime such as rape, has deemed Cristiano Ronaldo to be innocent. End of story.
    The magazine Der Spiegel has been known to bend the truth on multiple occasions for a few extra cash.
    And I’m not saying this because I’m a fan of that guy, because I’m not. Anyone believing this article will be misled by it.
    Cristiano Ronaldo has been acquitted by the court of law of all charges, which is the end of story. Anyone who believes otherwise should challenge the court’s judgement rather than writing articles online.

  4. Pushing a self made narrative for views ? Feminist like you are the downfall for feminism. Due to the exploits of feminism by some female many people are developing negativity toward feminism.

    The fact was :
    She asked for few million after sex to not tell anyone it(which very often many star and prostitute do) . Now after years she broke the legal contact and demanding 65million dollars (325 crore rupee ).

    Note that you can cann’t have everthing either you make money or fight and if she had choosed the later then the whole world would have fought.

  5. This is a brave article on multiple fronts. Not only does it serially dissect a celebrity scandal which itself is walking on eggshells considering not only their fan following but their actual credibility as well – but also, invites the torrent of apologists who are prompt at their job as usual. It takes courage to speak the truth but more so to stand the shower of uninformed, unempathetic, and irresponsible whining after. May women keep raising their voices.

  6. “Conveniently forgotten”?
    No it has NOT been. Stop trying to push an agenda against a man who has already been acquitted. Realize this. The law offers justice to those who can prove the malice done to them. Calling a man a rapist and guilty for a crime he did not commit is as shameful and pathetic as trying to defend one.

    “The reason that Ronaldo walks free is because of the social capital and privilege he has amassed and position that he enjoys. Men in positions of power for long have been able to silence all sorts of criticism against them.”

    The reason CR7 walks free is because he was acquitted of all charges. Understand that power, social influence and money swings both ways. It has its advantages but there is a flip side to it as well. One misguided claim, one false allegation can bring your entire life down. There are people waiting to take you down.

    “This is a classic victim blaming narrative.”
    Really? Is it? Again, he proved that he was not guilty in the court of law. It does not matter what you may say. Innocent until proven guilty. But because of his popularity, money and social status – he was already declared an offender by so-called ‘feminists’. Ronaldo did not escape the law by paying people off. It’s called a settlement Ms. Roy. People of Cristiano’s stature, large businessmen and women choose to fight off allegations with a settlement because public opinion is everything to their career. It can make or break it. It is better than avoiding the hassle of a spoilt image and forever losing the respect of your peers, family and children. As for the acceptance claims, it has been proven to be a case of forgery.

    “The incident happened years back. Ronaldo is a changed man now. He does a lot of charity work.”

    Who the f*ck has claimed this? Changed man? No, he was always innocent. Charity work has nothing to do with a man’s crimes.

    The fact that she settled with a six figure sum in dollars and chooses to put an allegation on somebody who she had a history with years later when her career isn’t going anywhere in terms of success tells a very different story. She claims 18 million pounds for her “past suffering”. You want to know why? Because Cristiano is a lot richer now than back then.

    It might hurt but if you get a little time. Go and look at her past tweets at Ronaldo where she talks about having met three more women who have the same claim and they coming to “get their money”. Tweets are as follows –
    1. Hey I have a good news… I have 3 more ladies with the same situation we will speak soon… 😉
    @Cristiano
    we want our money
    2. I will speak with my lawyer today!! He Will give me to me a very nice news!!! I will be rich again!!!! 😉
    3. How the world can be like that? I want justice
    @Cristiano pay me!!
    4. I cant believe this!! Again to Man U. That’s not nice, he still do not pay me!!!!!

    Latest one^ not mentioning him but directly referring to him.

    Ms. Shriya Roy, a direct question to you? Does that seem like a victim or a gold digger? As a journalist, it is your job to go above and beyond to find the truth. In your industry, you must be well aware that not all the reported news is correct. On the contrary, most is propaganda.

    People with power, influence are not the ones in control of their image. It is the people that are. Some people are just trying to avoid conflict in life. Just because there was settlement does not mean there was a crime. These settlements are done because there are haters, so-called “feminists” like you who ruin the concept of feminism.

    You chose to present the most twisted explanations/arguments for Cristiano completely ignoring true facts. You are a journalist. Please be more responsible.

  7. Trashy click-bait journalism, pathetic. Please stop calling yourself feminists, because actual feminist’s like us have to bear the burden of having to pick up the trash spread by y’all. Ronaldo’s rape accusation saga has been talked about enough and in the end nothing conclusive was found, as opposed to Amber Heard’s case where evidence of her abusive behaviour is out there open in public.

    This is slander, plain and simple. Please try to be better than a trashy tabloid if you want people to take you guys seriously.

  8. You should be more careful with what you write, because it does amount to slander and he could sue you.

    You’ve basically taken everything the girl said and treated it as true. It may or may not be, it does sound quite compelling when you read about it but people do make things up sometimes when they have an incentive to do so, which she does.

    It needs to follow a proper legal process rather than be gossiped about.

  9. Okay There are too many people speaking against this article. So my questions are for them instead of the author now.
    Firstly, do you know the definition of Feminism? FYI it is not about women. It would be nice to see educated comments.
    Secondly, the question is remain, that just because someone is rich and powerful and good at something, does this mean that our systems are so flawed that they can actually get away with it? This more than being an attack on Ronaldo is an attack on government systems and organisations across the world. Sadly it has been proven to be true time and again.

    Hence my dear comrades what are you really angry with the author about? I mean I had a few things to ask her but sounds like our emotions are getting the better of us and logic is definitely getting flushed out.

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