Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been left out of the squad of the Portugal national team amid the ongoing rape scandal, with coach Fernando Santos announcing the decision on Thursday.
"We agreed the player wouldn't be available, wouldn't be an option for selection. For the next two squad selections, this one and the one next month, Ronaldo won't be with us,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said.
Santos later explained the decision was taken after a three-way conversation between himself, Ronaldo and the head of the country’s national football federation, but refused to state if the decision was made as a result of the rape allegations that have been hurled at the Portuguese star by Kathryn Mayorga.
However, Santos suggested Ronaldo will eventually represent his country again, without elaborating.
"In the future, nothing prevents Cristiano from giving his contribution to the national team,” he added.
Fans have taken to social media to react to the decision, suggesting he has simply opted not to play small international games, insisting his absence from the squad sheet is not due to the rape scandal.
He wasn’t called because he doesn’t play friendly to train more and preserve his energy not on background of allegations.— Oda (@Odanoss) October 4, 2018
Two unrelated issues. Ronaldo asked not to be included in any international games until 2019 and hasn't played for Portugal since the Russia World Cup. To claim he has been dropped as a result of these accusations, which he has very publicly denied, is wholly inaccurate.— Michael Thomas (@Mike_Thomas__) October 4, 2018
— Idris (@KingIdris1111) October 4, 2018
Portugal will next face Poland in their UEFA Nations League campaign, before playing Scotland in a friendly international away from home.
The squad reached the round of 16 in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, getting knocked out of the tournament by Uruguay, with PSG forward Edinson Cavani scoring a brace.