The media and sports stars have a love-hate relationship, but in this case, there is definitely more love.
Sexual assault allegations against arguably one of the greatest soccer players of all time have recently come to light (Ahmed & Elsey, 2018). I had no idea of these allegations until the other day, yet they date back to 2005! For 13 years, Ronaldo and his posse of lawyers have kept these women quiet. Or perhaps the media has brushed off reports of sexual assault against Ronaldo because his heroism-like reputation makes them so unbelievable.
We want to believe that our sporting idols are saints due to the reputation they have often built over decades of good. When situations become public, such as the one Ronaldo currently finds himself in, we can dismiss severe issues to ensure our view of individuals or teams remains positive. Has this been the case with the media in discussing the allegations against Ronaldo? My answer to that question would be quite possibly, yes.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been playing professional soccer for almost two decades, with his net worth estimated at $108 million (Forbes, 2018). Over this time, Ronaldo has continually engaged in charity and community work. Some of his ‘acts of good’ include (Sheen, 2018):
- Being an ambassador for numerous charities such as Save the Children and Unicef;
- Donating his match bonuses to various causes, and;
- Interacting with sick fans, and in some cases, paying for life-changing surgeries.
Therefore, during his career, Ronaldo has invested significant time and effort into ensuring his reputation was positive in nature and he was regarded as a great role model.
Ronaldo has labelled the rape allegations as “complete fabrications” in an attempt to destroy his reputation (Jolly, 2018). And the media has seemed to agree. The lack of reporting on this issue shows that, for once, the media are presuming this sports star to be innocent until proven guilty.
Think of any NRL sex scandal – perhaps the recent Sam Burgess FaceTime nudity saga or the Scott Bolton sexual assault allegations – the media generally paint the picture that the sports star is guilty before evidence of any wrongdoing is available. However, this is not the case for Ronaldo. Why?
I think it is because he has done so much for football in a positive sense and tarnishing Ronaldo’s reputation would also have a negative effect on that of this universal sport. Additionally, Ronaldo’s huge fanbase would come after any media outlets that chose to accept these women’s claims as true. Therefore, the decades of work Ronaldo has put into not only communities and charities, but also into growing football, has had a significant impact on the media in their reporting of his current situation.
Ahmed, S., & Elsey, B. (2018). Sports media is finally covering one of the biggest stories of the year: Why did it take so long?. Retrieved from https://rewire.news/article/2018/10/09/sports-media-is-finally-covering-one-of-the-biggest-stories-of-the-year-why-did-it-take-so-long/
Forbes. (2018). #10 Cristiano Ronaldo. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/profile/cristiano-ronaldo/#1ff00fc7565d
Jolly, B. (2018). Cristiano Ronaldo brands rape allegations an attempt to destroy his reputation. Retrieved from https://metro.co.uk/2018/10/10/cristiano-ronaldo-brands-rape-allegations-an-attempt-to-destroy-his-reputation-8025913/
Sheen, T. (2018). Cris the Redeemer. Retrieved from https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/4966031/cristiano-ronaldo-ballon-dor-charity/