Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in Saturday’s Clasico against Barcelona in Miami on Saturday.
Ronaldo, who took home twins earlier this summer, cited personal commitments as reason for his absence from the prestigious friendly, according to Relevent Sports chairman Charlie Stillitano, whose company is responsible for the International Champions Cup.
“Unfortunately, Ronaldo’s personal commitments precluded him from being here,” Stillitano told the Miami Herald on Friday.
Complicating matters, Ronaldo, who stayed home throughout Real’s summer tour of the United States, has been called to appear in court on July 31 to testify in a case in which he is accused of evading taxes.
“He really wanted to be here. This is not a diva situation. He was hoping that he could make it. He waited until today to let us know, but it just didn’t work out.
“Mr. Ross did everything possible to get him here,” Stillitano said of RSE Ventures founder and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. “And Cristiano said he was very grateful for that. I’m extremely disappointed, but we still have the two best teams and the top stars minus one.”
Ronaldo made headlines last month when reports indicated he wanted to quit the club and leave Spain this summer due to his tax problems.
And a source close to Ronaldo confirmed to ESPN FC that the former Manchester United man preferred to play in another country rather than deal with what he saw as “persecution” in Spain, although Real president Florentino Perez came out soon after and said the Portugal international was unlikely to leave the Bernabeu club.
The Real Madrid star’s absence from the ICC match in Miami also leads to serious doubts as to his availability for the Major League All-Star Game against Los Blancos, which takes place in Chicago on Wednesday.
Asked if he was worried over not having Ronaldo against Barca, Real manager Zinedine Zidane said: “For this match tomorrow? None. There are no worries because he’s on vacations and have to enjoy his vacations. I believe that all of us are ready for the match tomorrow and I believe that, Cristiano will be with us on [August] the 5th to start the season.”
Ronaldo led Real Madrid to a La Liga and Champions League double last season, culminating with a 4-1 defeat of Serie A giants Juventus in the UCL final for Los Blancos‘ second straight European title.
After the season, he helped Portugal to a third-place finish in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
A four-time Ballon d’Or winner, Ronaldo led Portugal to their first major tournament trophy last summer, when they beat hosts France in the final of the 2016 European Championships.