Ousted World Cup stars classless
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after his team's defeat during the World Cup on Tuesday. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
JOHANNESBURG -- Ronaldo opens up his mouth after a devastating loss to Spain and spits in the direction of a television cameraman.
Wayne Rooney opens up his mouth while leering into a TV camera after a disappointing draw with Algeria and spews an obscenity at his own loyal English supporters.
Is this how little regard these two alleged stars have for you, the viewing public at home? Or for the general populace?
Especially for a pair of high-profile prima donnas who practically were invisible here at South Africa 2010.
Thanks, in part, to corporate America, Ronaldo has been turned into this larger-than-life figure who stars in motor oil ads, appears in animated form on an episode of the Simpsons and has his image splattered on the side of a 30-story glass tower in downtown Johannesburg as part of a Nike campaign.
Hopefully, all those loyal Portuguese supporters who made the pilgrimage to South Africa saw the impressive form of The Ravishing Ronaldo on that skyscraper.
Because they certainly didn't see much of him in Portugal's 1-0 tournament-ending loss to Spain at soggy Green Point Stadium in Cape Town on Tuesday.
As was the case for Rooney, South Africa 2010 was supposed to be Ronaldo's coming-out party in the world spotlight. And, as was the case with Rooney, it was a flop.
Make no mistake here. These two are wonderfully skilled players, a pair of the best talents on the globe. At times, during their days together with mighty Manchester United, you could almost see the opposition quivering when the R&R machine - Ronaldo and Rooney - would come screaming down at the other team's goalie.
But this is the World Cup. This is far bigger than anything a player does for his club team. This is the grandest stage of any team sport on the planet.
And how did these two respond? Ronaldo had one goal. Rooney had none.
The numbers speak for themselves. And yet, these two have the audacity to act like boors? Did we mention the word "classless?" Yes? Well, it bears repeating.
After the loss against Spain, Ronaldo was asked about what happened.
"Ask the coach," he sneered.
On Wednesday, he was doing his best spin-doctoring job to put that quote into perspective. Don't be surprised if his handlers had something to do with his sudden thirst for damage control.
"When I said to ask the coach, it was simply because (manager) Carlos Queiroz was at a press conference and journalists could hear his explanations and because I did not feel in the right condition to explain what happened," Ronaldo told the publication "Marca." I never thought that these simple and innocent words could cause so much controversy. So I ask you not to look for ghosts where none exist. There is no case whatsoever.
"I am suffering and I have the right to suffer alone. I am devastated, completely devastated, frustrated and with unimaginable sadness."
Is that any excuse for spitting in the direction of a cameraman, a heinous act witnessed by millions on their high def big screens back home?
Of course not.
And neither was Rooney's cursing of the English fans who booed their national team off the Green Point Stadium pitch after a moribund 0-0 draw with Algeria on June 18.
Rooney, at least, would subsequently apologize for his sewer-mouthed outburst. Then he went out and failed to score in England's final two matches in the tournament, upping his all-time World Cup goal total from zero to, well, zero.
Rooney has a partial excuse. Most of his teammates sucked. They couldn't get him the ball even when he was open. Ronaldo, on the other hand, apparently wants to be a complete player. Instead, he was completely invisible.
Ronaldo and Rooney are wonderful performers for Real Madrid and Man. U, respectively. But the World Cup is the place a player scripts his everlasting legacy. On that front, both fell well short.
And acted poorly doing it.