2010 FIFA World Cup: The Cristiano Ronaldo Conundrum

George MarkoulakisContributor IJune 30, 2010

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 25:  Gilberto Silva of Brazil tackles Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between Portugal and Brazil at Durban Stadium on June 25, 2010 in Durban, South Africa.  (Photo by Steve Haag/Getty Images)
Steve Haag/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo's notoriety... was it a curse?

An observation many viewers shared in the 2010 World Cup is that the match officials were much less than favorable towards Cristiano Ronaldo.

Whether it is Ronaldo's notoriety in the art of diving, his arrogance or simply because he is arguably the best footballer on the planet, the Portuguese superstar is often placed in a negative light. The most frequent criticism, especially here in the United States, is that he is a "baby" who constantly embellishes seemingly harmless challenges.

The 2010 World Cup has been deemed an unsuccessful tournament for the Portuguese captain, but officiating from FIFA referees, along with the tactics of Carlos Queiroz, did nothing to support Ronaldo's game.

In several instances, Ronaldo was cheated during challenges that were certainly worthy of a foul and maybe more. 

In the opening group match against the Ivory Coast, Ronaldo dove and the official called a foul. The Ivorians were quite angry after the referee's decision, and the official proceeded to make yet another questionable decision.

Ronaldo sprinted down the heart of the Ivorian defense with the ball, and one defender seemed to make what is frequently called a "professional foul" and worthy of a booking. The official, Jorge Larrionda, decided to accuse Ronaldo of diving and punished him with a yellow card.

As the group stage matches continued, fouls on the Portuguese captain were not being called, as the referees must have assumed that he was diving.

In Portugal's Round of 16 match against Spain, it once again seemed like Ronaldo would not be able to buy a call.

One of the most malicious challenges was committed by Spanish defender Carles Puyol. Ronaldo clearly nutmegged Puyol, but then Puyol's wandering leg came into play and tripped him. The official, Hector Baldassi, refused to make the call and proceeded to gift the Spanish one call after another, rarely calling the several fouls committed against Ronaldo.

This may be speculation, but it seems to me that FIFA is prepping the match officials so that they can become aware of a certain player's tendencies. And the perception of Ronaldo is of an arrogant player who continues to put himself in the spotlight with tendencies similar to a whining child's. 

In my opinion, FIFA is not treating Ronaldo like any other player. If they did, Ronaldo would have at least received some calls in the four matches that he played. Something FIFA needs to understand is that it is not right to have any form of bias against a player, especially in the World Cup, which is such a monumental event.

As for the captain's post-game actions being deemed "uncaptain-like," if Ronaldo wants to change the perception that others have of him, he needs to have a form of restraint and avoid suspect actions such as spitting in front of a cameraman.

If Ronaldo is able to alter this negative perception, the bias held by match officials may change.