From the Basement: When athleticism overshadows allegations

Hannah May Powers, Staff Writer

Soccer may not be my first love, but it has been the one to affect my life the most. No matter the teams on the pitch, I have found that a universal love of the sport binds fans of the game.

At times, however, it is necessary to engage with the things you love in a critical manner. The world of soccer is currently at an important crossroads. Fans face the choice of acknowledging the rape allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo or becoming further complicit in rape culture.

Perhaps the gleam of Ronaldo’s Ballon d’Ors is enough to blind fans from examining the actions of a man who has become modern legend within the sport. This, however, only proves that discussions regarding sexual violence are more necessary now than ever.

For all intents and purposes, Ronaldo is doing absurdly well. His billion-dollar lifetime deal with Nike is still intact, and his £365,000 per-week salary from Juventus is more than enough to keep his pockets nicely cushioned.

Sure, Juventus had a drop in stocks after the allegations came out in late 2018, but this is merely indicative of the fact that capital and reputation are nearly always at the forefront of the minds of club owners and investors.

Juventus’s wholly inappropriate and dismissive statement serves only to demonstrate this disturbing mindset.

“Cristiano Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus” a spokesperson for Juventus said. “The events allegedly dating back to almost 10 years ago do not change this opinion, which is shared by anyone who has come into contact with this great champion.”

This attempt to paint Ronaldo as incapable of committing these acts because of his achievements on the pitch is a slap in the face to survivors of sexual violence everywhere.

Pelé said it best when he described soccer as “jogo bonito” or “the beautiful game.”

I could not agree more, but there is no beauty in allowing fame to obscure moments of violence. Perhaps fans ignoring or contesting the allegations need to examine their own motivations and privileges that allow them to act in such a way.

Juventus’ slogan of “fino alla fine,” or “until the end,” could not be more applicable to this situation. Until the end of an era defined by attempts to delegitimize claims made by survivors of sexual violence, I and other sexual violence prevention activists will remain steadfast in the belief that survivors deserve to be unequivocally supported, regardless of whether or not the alleged perpetrator can kick a ball into a goal.

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