Manchester United announced Friday that it has “initiated appropriate steps” in response to star forward Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent interview with TalkTV’s Piers Morgan.
In the interview, Ronaldo said he felt “betrayed” by the Premier League club, stated his lack of respect for manager Erik ten Hag, and cast doubt on whether he would return to the team.
Manchester United’s statement noted they will be making no further comment on the matter “until this process reaches its conclusion.”
Various British media outlets have claimed the club are considering canceling Ronaldo’s contract as a result of the controversial interview.
The Guardian and The Athletic both quoted sources saying that the club have appointed lawyers and is considering legal action against Ronaldo. The Guardian also reported that the forward has been instructed not to return to Carrington, the club’s training ground, once the World Cup concludes.
CNN has reached out to Ronaldo’s representation to confirm the reports but did not hear back immediately. Manchester United responded to the request for confirmation with the same statement issued on the club website earlier in the day.
Premier League contracts as standard demand that players “act in accordance with all lawful instructions of any authorized official of the Club” and prohibit “knowingly or recklessly do write or say anything or omit to do anything which is likely to bring the Club or the game of football into disrepute.”
The contracts also stipulate that players are obliged, circumstances permitting, to give clubs “reasonable notice” of their intention to make public media appearances.
Ronaldo has not enjoyed a happy second reunion with the club he first joined in 2003.
After a glittering first stint where he won every accolade going, including the first of his five Ballon d’Or awards, last season Ronaldo endured his first season without a trophy since 2005.
He made a fairy-tale return to Manchester last year, scoring a brace in his debut to usher in a new era at United but things quickly turned sour for the club. They sacked manager and Ronaldo’s former teammate Ole Gunnar Solskjær before hiring and Ralf Ragnick, someone Ronaldo said in the interview he had “never heard of.”
Despite United’s poor form and results, Ronaldo was widely defended by fans and pundits alike, thanks to his 24 goals in all competitions.
But since his interview, those who were once quick to defend him, now agree with Ten Hag’s assessment that Ronaldo is not fit to play for United.
Ronaldo’s former teammate Rio Ferdinand said on his ‘Vibe with Five’ podcast that “this has all been manufactured for one thing – and that’s for him to leave the club.”
“I don’t feel the club will take him back and I don’t think that he wants to come back. This is all manufactured for that reason,” he added.
Meanwhile Wayne Rooney had to defend himself from Ronaldo’s interview. Ronaldo was very critical of Rooney after the former England captain said that Ronaldo’s age had been catching up with him and that it would be tough for the 37-year-old to, “accept what’s going on, him not playing and being on the bench .”
Rooney said on Thursday that what he said of Ronaldo was “not criticism.”
“What I’ve said is age comes to all of us, Cristiano is finding it hard to deal with that,” said the former England on Ronaldo’s “strange” comments.