Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo is focused on success at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia despite the prospect of facing prosecution for tax fraud in Spain, his teammate Pepe has insisted.
Spanish prosecutors have accused Portugal captain Ronaldo of defrauding the state of €15 million (US$16.7 million) between 2011 and 2014, which has caused him to make a reported “irreversible decision” to leave club side Real Madrid.
However, speaking at a press conference in Moscow ahead of the Confed Cup Group A game between Russia and Portugal at Spartak Stadium on Wednesday, Pepe said Ronaldo is just one more player focused on the task to “take the name of Portugal as far as we can.”
“In terms of Ronaldo, we are professionals, we are determined to go as far as we can in this tournament and to benefit from this,” said Pepe, who was a teammate of Ronaldo at Real Madrid until he left the club at the end of last season.
“It is the first time Portugal is in the tournament and we want to make the Portuguese people happy. As regards Ronaldo, he is one more player who is completely concentrated on helping Portugal,” he added.
Portugal currently sit third in Group A after their 2-2 draw with Mexico in Kazan on Sunday, with whom they are subsequently tied on points, behind leaders Russia who beat New Zealand 2-0 in the tournament opener in St. Petersburg on Saturday.
In their game against Mexico, Barcelona’s Andre Gomes had a goal disallowed upon review by the Video Assistance Referee (VAR), a system which FIFA president Gianni Infantino recently declared was the “future of modern football.”
Despite VAR having a mixed reception among some sections of football supporters, Portuguese manager Fernando Santos said it is something that had to be accepted.
“Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is going to be used for the Confederations Cup so there’s no point wasting time. I’m sure the people in charge will think about all these issues,” Santos said.
“In life nothing is perfect, only God, but that will only happen in the future, and I am sure they will take the best decisions.”