Juventus rejects K League’s allegationsJuventus FC chairman Andrea Agnelli on Wednesday rejected allegations that the Italian champions acted irresponsibly after Cristiano Ronaldo did not feature in a preseason friendly against the K League All-Stars in Seoul last week.
Ronaldo was contracted to play at least 45 minutes according to event organizers but sat out the game due to “muscle fatigue,” leading irate fans to pursue legal action to seek compensation for the cost of tickets and “mental anguish.”
The K League said on Tuesday that it had sent a letter of protest to Juventus for violating the contract but Agnelli has clarified his club’s position on the matter to K League President Kwon Oh-gap in a letter seen by Reuters.
“Every single player present in Korea... played the match, except one: Cristiano Ronaldo, who was obliged, according to our medical staff’s advice, to rest due to muscle fatigue after the Nanjing game [against Inter Milan] which was only 48 hours before the one in Seoul,” Agnelli wrote.
“Therefore, Mr. President, I definitely reject your accusation of irresponsible behavior, of arrogance and of disregard for fans, who we always honour.”
“No one at Juventus wanted to bring disrepute to the K League, Korea Football Association or Asian Football Confederation.”
Agnelli also blamed the circumstances leading to a delayed kick-off at the packed Seoul World Cup Stadium after Juventus took more than two hours to exit the airport and eventually reached the stadium 15 minutes after the original kick-off time.
“Juventus arrived at the hotel at 4:30 p.m. There was no time to rest or to hold regular pre-match activity,” he added.
“No police escort was provided to the Juventus bus. Traffic was really busy, and the coach got stuck for almost two hours, something which has never happened in our experience all over the world.”
Juventus, who are now back in Turin, Italy, begins their Serie A title defense under new coach Maurizio Sarri with a trip to Parma, Italy, on Aug. 25 before a visit from his former team Napoli the week after.
Following Juventus’ reply, the K League issued a statement.
“On the contract, it said that Juventus will guarantee at least 45 minutes of Ronaldo’s appearance on the pitch, but he didn’t even play for a minute,” the K League said. “That is the main point of this incident. But in Juventus’ response, there’s not a single word of apology or an explanation regarding that. There was also no apology made regarding their hour-late arrival to the stadium as well as their demands of reducing the time of the match to 40 minutes in each halves.”
The K League also added that they are very disappointed about Juventus’ excuses that are not related to the main issue of the incident.
“We urge Juventus to make a responsible apology and clear explanation of Ronaldo’s no show on the pitch,” the K League said.
The K League also revealed that it checked with the Ministry of Justice Korea Immigration Service and rejected the claim from Juventus that it took over 2 hours for the team to exit the airport.
BY KANG YOO-RIM, REUTERS [firstname.lastname@example.org]