Ronaldo Hit In The Pocket

Last updated : 17 August 2007 By Editor

The Guardian:

Sir Alex Ferguson has taken disciplinary action against Cristiano Ronaldo after the headbutt offence that prompted the second red card of the Portugal winger's career in Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Portsmouth on Wednesday.

Ronaldo is to miss United's next three matches, starting with Sunday's derby at Manchester City, and Ferguson intends to impose a mandatory club fine. Under PFA guidelines, the maximum is two weeks' wages, which means Ronaldo could be docked around £230,000. Ferguson believes Ronaldo was "provoked" but was incensed by the player's rash response.

Richard Hughes, recipient of the 'headbutt':

"It wasn't a Glasgow kiss, I've received harder headbutts than that! I don't know if there was any intent. He came in a bit quicker than me and our heads clashed. There are no cuts or bruises. As I said, I've received harder. The ref had a better view than me, I was actually too close to know whether he meant it. I do think in that particular incident, he was getting wound up. He swung a leg at me before the butt. He looked a bit frustrated and I felt it was more of his doing to get head-to-head and not mine.

"I was just on the pitch for a few minutes. It wasn't as if I'd been winding him up for half an hour. It was the usual sort of scrimmage you get at a corner, especially at the end of such a tense game. You often get that. A push and a shove led to another and myself and Ronaldo squared up to each other. The last thing I thought was that either of us were going to get sent off when we went face-to-face. You often see footballers doing that. Whether he meant it or not, he leaned in a little bit and made contact with me. The ref was standing right there and he saw fit to issue a red. If you give a team like United time and space they'll kill you, so you have to be physical. But I certainly didn't try to set a trap to get him sent off, as Ferguson has said. I was more concerned about trying to stop Ronaldo's run for the ball as he's dangerous in the air.

"What happened was just one of those things. I've never thought of Ronaldo as a hothead. None of the players think so — otherwise he'd be getting targeted every week, which isn't the case. He's a phenomenal player who usually lets his football do the talking."