On Ronaldo, Mayorga, The Rape Allegations, & The Issue With Idolization

I debated writing this piece over and over again in my head. On the one hand, this can easily be seen as a selfish piece — as something meant to make myself the victim in a story where I don’t matter. On the other hand, while maybe true, I also felt the need to be as honest about my stance and thought process as possible. This is because I consistently present myself as someone who isn’t afraid to speak out any issue, whether it be trivial, political, or the intersection of both topics with sports.

My twitter bio, where I proudly state that I won’t just “stick to sports.”

I’d like to think that I do this consistently and that I do it based on a strong belief in certain moral values and not just so I can present myself as the #woke liberal dude.

And I think I could believe that if it wasn’t for this thing about Ronaldo — this thing where I’ve shown a blatant hypocrisy as soon as the situation got personal for me. I think I should investigate my failings and look them straight in the eye if I truly believe that I take stances “based on a strong belief in certain moral values” and not just to be cool.

However, as mentioned before, this can easily be seen as a selfish piece. That’s why I think it’s perfectly reasonable to not care about this article one bit. I’m definitely not the victim here and if you couldn’t be bothered about how some Ronaldo fanboy is trying to reckon his fandom with his moral stances I suggest you stop reading here. Or maybe read on and tell me why I was wrong to write this piece. I’m not sure that what I’m doing is right or advisable, but I just felt like I needed to do it. Any feedback or criticism is welcome.

Anyway, if you got this far, I figure you’re at least mildly interested in what I have to say. So read on.

It felt like it would be a pretty normal Friday. I woke up late — around — 11 or 12 in the morning, did the usual morning routine, and sat in front of my laptop. I checked my emails — nothing of note besides a few emails about an accelerated masters program I was applying to — and logged onto twitter.

I saw this immediately.

I froze, and felt my stomach drop to my knees. I can’t say I was shaking or really even shivering on the outside, but inside, I was doing both.

A million things were going through my head before I finally raised my fingertips to my keyboard and typed:

I didn’t feel good after submitting the tweet. I didn’t feel relieved. Instead, I felt the intensification of guilt.

The truth was that this statement was as an act of cowardice.

Let me explain.

Of the millions of things that were going through my head before I clicked “submit,” one of them was the Senate hearings for Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford the day before.

I had been all over that shit.

I had it on in the background as soon as I got out of class and tweeted periodically about how disgusting the situation was and how Kavanaugh was acting like such a shithead.

Unsurprisingly, some of my followers didn’t take to it all that well and brought out the “stick to footie” line.

I replied indignantly and then later went on to subtweet the situation to show off my massive fucking cojones and demonstrate how brave I was.

All those interactions spun through my head as I finished that quote tweet on the Der Spiegel story. I felt this intense pressure to acknowledge the validity of Kathryn Mayorga’s story because of how morally superior I had acted about Dr. Ford’s testimony.

In other words, I didn’t craft that tweet out of a deep-seated moral or ethical belief. I did it because I was worried about my own image and how I could be perceived as hypocritical.

Maybe, I’m being too harsh on myself. Maybe, I tweeted about it because deep down I truly care about the equality of women and their right to live in a world free of sexual violence. Maybe, it’s reasonable to be immediately concerned about the consistency of your own argument.

Perhaps, but see, the moment where I was more preoccupied about my self-image can’t be construed as an “in-the-moment” feeling. I knew about these allegations as soon as they came out.

I even reported on them:

Plus, at the end of the article I wrote:

This is not the first time Ronaldo has faced sexual assault allegations. In 2005, two women claimed that they were raped by Ronaldo and another man. Ronaldo maintained his innocence and the charges were eventually dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Not only was I aware of the most recent allegations but I was also aware of the ones from 2005, too. Yet, besides the linked article — which was completely devoid of my own take on the matter — you cannot find one single tweet or word from me on this issue until my quote tweet on September 28th, 2018.

The quote tweet came only after I was worried about my own hypocrisy between my stances on Brett Kavanaugh and Ronaldo and after Kathryn Mayorga had come out herself.

Why the silence?

It’s pretty damn clear — I idolized Ronaldo deeply.

Cristiano Ronaldo Dos Santos Aveiro was the reason I got into football. Before him, I thought it was boring as hell. It wasn’t until I watched a youtube video of Ronaldo’s skills from his 2004/05 season with Manchester United that I realized how damn magical this game could be. My god, the speed of those step-overs, the roulettes, the insane close control! I had found my new obsession and I had found the new figure I could fanboy over (it was Federer prior to CR7).

Ronaldo, obviously, also made me adore Real Madrid. He was the gateway and foundation of my love for everything associated with football. I like players like Hazard, Neymar, and Memphis Depay because, to a certain extent, they mimic prime Ronaldo’s penchant for dribbling at defenders, cutting inside, and shooting on goal. I subscribed to countless youtube channels dedicated to him; I bought posters; I purchased jerseys; I mimicked my playing style after him; I wrote articles about his greatness (heck, the only other Medium articles I’ve written are about how good Ronaldo is); and I backed him vigorously in the debates against Messi for the title of G.O.A.T.

So when I saw that Ronaldo was accused of rape in 2017, I briefly let it wrestle with my conscience before I reported on it and went about living my life like nothing had happened. I cheered Ronaldo whole-heartedly when he led Madrid to back-to-back-to-back Champions League titles and when he scored a marvelous hat-trick vs. Spain in the World Cup.

I wasn’t willing to abandon my fandom for stupid shit like morals and ethics— the stuff I said I cared a lot about on social media and irl.

As soon as the stakes got personal, I folded.

And I write this not just to feast on some self-hate porn, but also as a plea to other Cristiano Ronaldo fans. I understand on a personal level exactly why you want to dismiss these allegations outright. I understand that the mention of the accusations produces an uncontrollable, unexplainable rage. You see it as a threat to your very fandom. You see it as a threat to what you love dearly. It causes you pain.

Now imagine what Kathryn Mayorga must be going through. Imagine your pain multiplied by a million. And then multiply that by ten trillion.

Then consider how well put together the story is. The Der Spiegel journos have collected multiple documents detailing a settlement between Ronaldo and Mayorga over accusations of rape. The names are protected by pseudonyms but Ronaldo’s signature is right there at the end.

Consider that while Ronaldo and Mayorga’s stories differ in a variety of ways, both admit that sexual intercourse happened and that Mayorga repeatedly said “no” when Ronaldo penetrated her.

Consider that the absent of consent while penetration occurs is the definition of rape.

Consider that Ronaldo, though having said that he’d sue when the original Der Spiegel report came out, has not followed up on his threat.

Consider that only a tiny minority of women falsify accusations of sexual assault.

Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t reason to be skeptical or confused about some of the details and reactions. For one, I don’t understand why Der Spiegel had the original report paywalled. It makes it seem like they’re trying to cynically profit off of Mayorga’s pain.

Secondly, I don’t understand why Mayorga and her lawyer are trying this in a civil court, and for apparently only approximately $200,000! Being extremely ignorant of the legal issues at hand, there could be an easy explanation here, but it seems like she could go to criminal court with the evidence at hand [EDIT: This article discusses several relevant legal questions that I am not qualified to answer myself].

But what doesn’t seem to be in doubt is that Ronaldo raped Kathryn Mayorga.

I beg CR7 fans to look at this logically and to do their best to remove their own suffering from the equation. In the process of trying to separate your pain, struggle with it, sway back and forth, feel overwhelmed, but please don’t turn away from this. Please don’t be like me and do what I did. Don’t just dismiss it or pretend it isn’t happening.

Survivors of sexual assault need to be taken seriously. In the wake of the #MeToo movement we’ve only just glimpsed at the extent to which women and men are sexually abused, manipulated, and intimidated into silence.

We’ve learned that it doesn’t matter to the people who were sexually assaulted that their assailants were rich, famous, and immensely talented. All that matters to them is that they were sexually assaulted and that they want justice, to be heard, and to be believed.

What survivors want is for you to put their pain above your own.