Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Cristiano Ronaldo crying: A shame Portugal captain turned on the tears during Euro 2016 final

You and I will probably never know. But there is an invertebrate out there who does: the moth that landed on Ronaldo’s face after eight minutes of the Euro 2016 final on Sunday night and started sucking up his sob-drops like they were nectar, or bird crap, or whatever it is that moths drink.

That moth got a good old proboscis-full of Cristiano’s unfathomable sadness, and if the properties of CR7’s tears match the intensity of his self-importance, it will probably now live forever as the Moth King, imbued with super-mothic powers and gigantic, improbably well-defined upper legs.

It already has its own Twitter account, which is more than most moths can say. All the rest will surely follow. I know there were many people who were moved by the sight of Ronaldo crying his eyes out at various stages of Sunday’s final.

He cried when he was injured in a tackle by Dimitri Payet. He cried when he was forced to go off the field as a result of that injury. He cried when his team won the tournament, thanks to that superb Eder goal in extra time.

I am not sure if he cried when someone made him put his top back on while he was strutting about the Stade de France celebrating victory with his nipples out, but it would not have been surprising if he did.

Unfeeling as it sounds, I did not find Cristiano’s weepy one-man show moving in the slightest, but only rather silly and self-indulgent. It is not nice to see a player forced out of any game through injury, particularly when the player is as talented and capable as Ronaldo.

However, the tears he shed on Sunday looked to me like nothing more than liquid self-pity: another wearying moment in Ronaldo’s self-directed melodrama celebrating his own genius.

To me, they were about his overriding wish to be the star of the show. His need to be the centre of attention. His urge to claim the headlines and the hashtags, no matter what. In other words, they were not really about football, but about celebrity.

Of course, Ronaldo is hardly the first athlete to have burst into tears at a moment of sporting high occasion. (Ask Gazza) He was not even the first to do so on Sunday.

andymurrayAround teatime in London, Andy Murray reacted to winning his second Wimbledon title and third Grand Slam event by bursting into a series of juddering, almost animal sobs.

Just as he has done before, Murray  — a supreme athlete and a very unwilling celebrity — baptised the grass of Centre Court with his tears, overwhelmed by the effort that he had invested in his performance.

Yet he did not do so for the cameras. Rather, he hid his face in his towel, trying to shut out the world until he was composed enough to accept his trophy.

This did not seem to be staged, hammy, look-at-me weeping, but rather the spontaneous outpouring of a naturally reserved man who found his emotional dam suddenly and violently breached. And it was all the more touching for it.

When you strip it back, all sport is a form of emotional manufacture. We create arbitrary games with complex rules, attach grand narratives to them and invest ourselves in their outcomes to an irrational and sometimes absurd degree, whether as supporters or as participants.

It is natural, therefore, that there are times when sport moves us to laughter, to fear, to anguish, to tears.

However, it is also true that there are degrees of emotional truth in sport. Moments of tragic nobility, but also moments of cheap, histrionic sentimentality.

Ronaldo, as his career has developed, seems to have become wholly obsessed with commodifying his public displays of emotion — from rolling his eyes to dabbing them.

He often appears to be a mime artist desperate to convince the watching world that his inner life is what matters most.

He does not need to do it. We already know how good he is, that we should savour his talent, that we will miss him when he is gone.

Blubbing about it may put his picture on newspaper covers; it may even attract friendly moths. But it does not burnish his talent, or his reputation — which is the thing that matters to him most of all.

Evening Standard

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