Cristiano Ronaldo Left Off Portugal’s National Team Squad for Upcoming Matches Amid Rape Allegation

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 26, 2018 Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo looks on during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Bologna at the Allianz Stadium in Turin. – Cristiano Ronaldo on October 3, 2018 categorically denied accusations by a former model who says the Portuguese superstar raped her in a Las Vegas hotel penthouse suite in 2009.”I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me,” tweeted the 33-year-old, who plays for Juventus in Italy’s Serie A. “Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in.” (Photo by Isabella BONOTTO / AFP)ISABELLA BONOTTO/AFP/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo was left off Portugal’s national team squad for a pair of upcoming matches, the decision coming Thursday as the soccer great fights rape allegations in the United States.

Ronaldo has been accused of rape by Kathryn Mayorga, who says the player assaulted her in Las Vegas in 2009. He has denied the accusation.

Ronaldo was left off the squad for Portugal’s second game in the UEFA Nations League at Poland on Oct. 11 and a friendly match in Glasgow against Scotland three days later.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos said Ronaldo also will not be called up for the next round of international games in November.

Santos said the decision was taken after a three-way conversation between him, Ronaldo and the head of the Portuguese soccer federation.

“We agreed the player wouldn’t be available, wouldn’t be an option for selection,” Santos said. “For the next two squad selections, this one and the one next month, Ronaldo won’t be with us.”

Santos refused to give details of the conversation, nor would he comment on Ronaldo’s state of mind, saying the information was private and personal.

Santos said he expected Ronaldo to play again for Portugal eventually.

Ronaldo also missed Portugal’s first two post-World Cup matches last month, with Santos saying then that Ronaldo had only just moved to Italian club Juventus and was still settling down there.

Santos used the 33-year-old team captain’s absence last month to try out younger players.

Ronaldo, who is nearing the end of his playing career, is a national hero in Portugal and the country’s best-known celebrity.

He is the country’s most experienced player with 154 national team appearances, and its all-time highest scorer with 85 goals.

SOURCE: The Associated Press