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4 Feb, 2020 11:57

Distraught Cristiano Ronaldo fans win court case for 'mental anguish' after star sparks fury by failing to play in Asia friendly

Distraught Cristiano Ronaldo fans win court case for 'mental anguish' after star sparks fury by failing to play in Asia friendly

A court case that heard how two fans suffered "mental anguish" when Cristiano Ronaldo failed to play in a pre-season friendly for Juventus in South Korea last year has ended in both supporters being awarded financial compensation.

Two fans who were left with "mental anguish" when Cristiano Ronaldo sat out a pre-season friendly at the Seoul World Cup Stadium last year have been compensated in a district court case in South Korea.

Event organisers The Fasta had suggested Ronaldo was contracted to play at least 45 minutes in the glamour game against K League All Stars, leaving the sell-out crowd of 65,000 people, most of whom had paid around 71,000 won ($59) for a match ticket, disappointed.

Ronaldo took to the bench alongside his teammates as Juventus recovered from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with their hosts, but the formidable striker made his only non-appearance of the club’s Asian tour with a muscle problem.

The Portuguese also missed a signing session where thousands of fans wearing Ronaldo shirts had eagerly gathered, while Juventus’s tight promotional schedule meant the match had to be delayed by 50 minutes in conditions of 90 percent humidity.

In August, South Korean police raided the office of The Fasta as part of an investigation into the event, with the marketing agency agreeing to “fully co-operate” in order to “clear any concerns and suspicions”, as well as lodging a complaint with Juve over “their breach of contract.”

Chief executive Robin Jang was reportedly issued with a travel ban and Kang Joon-woo, of Seoul-based legal firm Oh Kims Sports, was quoted by The Independent as saying: "The host secured tickets revenues even though the game was not implemented as advertised.

“It was the organiser's fault that it did not prepare for the situation. It caused the soccer fans to take all the damages. The Fasta...should be legally liable."

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A post-match report by Naver Sports accused Ronaldo of showing “minimum conscience” and questioned why the striker had not apologized.

Angry fans accused him of lacking “manners and respect”, with one writing: “Don't even write Ronaldo's name next to Messi.”

The drama did not end there for Ronaldo. The following month, in a demonstration of the impact on Juventus’s reputation in South Korea, fan Kwak Ji-hyuk followed the Serie A champions to the International Champions Cup in Sweden to ask him about his absence.

In a video which has reached more than four million views on YouTube, Ronaldo can be seen meeting overwhelmed fans while Kwak shouts: “Why didn’t you play in Korea?”

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Lawyer Kim Min-ki, who filed the lawsuit and was reportedly also representing 87 other plaintiffs in further cases related to the friendly, won ticket refunds and 300,000 won ($252) for each of the two successful fans at a district court in Incheon.

Reuters initially reported that the fans had been seeking one million won ($842). The fans involved in the further cases are also believed to have been pursuing 950,000 won ($800) each in a suit filed at the Seoul Central District Court.

Speaking when the claims were made, Kim told the news agency: “Many purchased tickets to see Ronaldo.

“The Fasta publicised that the company had a deal with Juventus which stipulated Ronaldo would play for at least 45 minutes and that Ronaldo would hold a fan signing event.”

Ronaldo played in matches against Tottenham and Inter Milan during the tour.