‘No words needed’? Ronaldo flexes muscles in Instagram post, but nothing on racially abused teammate
They are classic Ronaldo social media fare: the glitz, the glamor, the endless self-promotion.
Conspicuously absent is any reference to the racist chants directed against his Juventus teammate Moise Kean by Cagliari fans earlier this week.
Kean, 19, was subjected to monkey calls by Cagliari fans during Tuesday’s Serie A clash, including when the striker celebrated scoring his team’s second goal of the night by stretching his arms out wide in defiance in front of home supporters.Also on rt.com 'There were racist jeers. The blame's 50-50': Bonucci says Kean partially at fault for monkey chants
The abuse in itself was sickening, but what followed was arguably worse when Kean’s teammate Leonardo Bonucci said the young Italian striker was partially responsible for “provoking” the Cagliari fans.
Bonucci has since attempted to backtrack, while Kean has gained prominent support from the likes of Manchester City and England star Raheem Sterling and fellow Italian striker Mario Balotelli.
The backlash against the Cagliari fans and Bonucci has been widespread, vocal, and determined. It will hopefully contribute to meaningful, lasting action against racism in Italy and beyond.
But one voice glaringly absent from the debate is that of Kean’s Juventus teammate Ronaldo.
While the 34-year-old Portuguese forward is stepping up his recovery from a thigh injury that has ruled him out for the last two weeks, he has found time to promote his array of business interests, including that picture of himself flexing his impressive back muscles along with the message “no words needed.”
No public proclamation of support for Kean, no widespread condemnation of the racist abuse his teammate suffered. Why?
Ronaldo understandably has a huge personal brand to consider as one of – if not the – most recognizable faces in the world of sport.
His social media accounts benefit from promoting his myriad commercial commitments, interspersed with a liberal sprinkling of picture-perfect, all-action poses.
Ronaldo, or his people, may feel that wading into an issue as ugly as racism would not sit well in that heady mix of self-promotion and idealism.
The issue may also be complicated by Bonucci’s comments; indeed, other prominent Juventus players have not publicly supported Kean with social media messages.
But this really is an issue that is as black and white as the colors Juventus play in.
Racist abuse such as that which Kean was subjected to is unacceptable. There are no caveats, no mitigating factors.
Ronaldo is surely not oblivious to that, considering we are talking about a Juventus teammate.
He also surely knows the power his words would hold, given that his every move, on and off the pitch, is followed by millions of fans around the world.
Indeed, earlier this season he posted a picture of support to Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly after he had suffered racist abuse.
While that step won praise, an ill-judged social media post showing himself grinning on a private jet shortly after the flight of the tragic footballer Emiliano Sala disappeared was seen as crass and insensitive.Also on rt.com 'Lack of class': Ronaldo stirs anger with wrongly timed photo amid Sala's disappearance
Actions such as that – as well as the current silence – have done little to change the perception that Ronaldo is a self-obsessed narcissist, when in reality he has a long list of charity contributions to his name, even being hailed as the world’s most charitable sportsperson in 2015 by Dosomething.org.
For all we know, he may well have offered words of support in private to his teammate Kean, seeing that as the best way to help a young man who will benefit so much from training and playing alongside an all-time great of the game.
It’s also true that public comments from Ronaldo would, of course, not be a panacea to solve the issue.
But with the debate so close to home, and at a time when the ugly specter of racism in football has reared its head so prominently, they would at least elevate the profile of the the discussion to another level.
Ronaldo could flex his muscles of a different kind, adding his huge social media clout to the chorus of condemnation against the racism to which Kean was subjected.
“No words needed”? They really are, especially from one of the biggest and brightest names in the game.
By Liam Tyler