Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero has criticised Cristiano Ronaldo for his behaviour on the pitch while on international duty. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner threw his armband on the ground in frustration and walked off the pitch after his nation’s 2-2 draw against Serbia.
Portugal went 2-0 ahead before the break, thanks to a Diogo Jota brace, but Serbia responded with goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic and Filip Kostic in the second half. When it looked like Portugal would be forced to share the points, up stepped Cristiano Ronaldo. The Juventus man seemed to have scored the winner, only to be wrongly denied by the match officials.
The Portuguese was so furious that he hurled his armband on the ground, something that did not sit well with Del Piero.
Speaking to ESPN, the Juventus legend called it an overreaction but admitted that it was okay for Cristiano Ronaldo to be angry. However, Del Piero believes that as a captain and a football icon, the Portuguese should have shown more restraint.
“This is an overreaction. He shouldn't act like this, in that way. It's okay to be angry; it's okay to discuss it with the referee, but to throw the armband and keep going like this is too much for someone who is the team captain and is an iconic figure. But I also understand the moment, the importance of the match, and also the personal ambition that he puts into everything he does” said Del Piero.
Referee Danny Makkelie did go on to apologise for his mistake, but by then, the damage had already been done.
Cristiano Ronaldo claimed after the game that the decision harmed his team's qualification hopes. The decision robbed the nation of two vital points, leaving them on four points after two games.
Juventus legend, not the only one to criticise Cristiano Ronaldo
Such mistakes have normally been rectified by VAR and goal-line technology in recent years. But both options are unavailable for World Cup Qualifiers. That eventually cost Cristiano Ronaldo his first goal in the qualifying campaign, after the Juventus star had also failed to score against Azerbaijan.
Del Piero was not the only one to criticise the player, though. Former Portugal defender Fernando Meira was also not impressed by Cristiano Ronaldo’s conduct, pointing out that it was unacceptable for a captain.
While there have been calls to strip the Juventus star of his captaincy, Portugal coach Fernando Santos has backed his talisman. He said that the armband remains Cristiano Ronaldo's.