Portuguese soccer ace, Cristiano Ronaldo today accepted a public apology at London’s High Court and undisclosed libel damages over tabloid claims that he was fined £8,000 for using a mobile phone on the pitch during a training session.
While Ronaldo may be risking the ire of Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson by refusing to dispel talks of a summer transfer to Spanish superclub Real Madrid – but he did not infuriate his manager by texting during a training session last season, London’s High Court was told.
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Ronaldo, currently preparing for Portugal’s Euro 2008 quarter-final with Germany, sued the Sun over claims he had been fined £8,000 by an angry Ferguson for bringing his mobile phone onto the training pitch and sending for text messages during a session.
At a brief hearing, his solicitor Simon Smith told judge Mr Justice David Eady that his client took action against publishers News Group Newspapers Ltd over an article on 13 February headlined: “Text-Mad Ronaldo Fined 8K, Fergie’s Fury On Phone Ban”.
He said: ‘The article, described as an ‘exclusive’ in the news, not football, section of the Sun wrongly claimed that the claimant had broken club rules by taking his mobile telephone onto the training pitch and sending four text messages during a single training session, which caused Sir Alex Ferguson, his manager, to be furious and fine him a £8,000, thereby implying wholly unprofessional and arrogant behaviour on the part of the claimant.
‘The allegation was widely republished throughout the world. Both the claimant and Sir Alex Ferguson have confirmed that the alleged incident never happened.”
He said that Ronaldo had pledged to donate the damages to a charity based in Madeira, Portugal.
Though he told the judge at the start of the hearing that Ronaldo ‘currently’plays for United, Smith could not confirm afterwards where the Portuguese star would be playing next season.
In a statement released afterwards, Ronaldo said: ‘I felt it necessary to bring this action in order to protect my reputation as a professional footballer.
‘Contrary to the impression the article gave, I take training very seriously and do not want people to think I do not try my best in training. I’m glad something good has came out of this and that a charity I care about will receive the damages.”