Ronaldo praised for sportsmanship, but was it more like gamesmanship?

Ronaldo praised for sportsmanship, but was it more like gamesmanship?
Ronaldo praised for sportsmanship, but was it more like gamesmanship?

It could be seen as one of the iconic images of this World Cup.

Arguably the greatest player in the world, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, coming to the aid of a clearly injured Edinson Cavani, assisting him off the field so he could receive treatment.

Uruguay's Cavani — who later revealed he had suffered either a calf twinge or hamstring strain depending on which reports you believe — was unable to continue, adding further credence to Ronaldo's apparent display of sportsmanship.

Social media praised the Read Madrid star's actions, with many emphasising their respect.

But are we getting a little bit ahead of ourselves here?

As sporting as the gesture initially appears, is it not feasible that in the 70th minute of a must-win knockout match, Ronaldo was simply ensuring Cavani left the field as quickly as possible?

The Paris St Germain striker was proving to be the kryptonite to Ronaldo's nation-carrying abilities with two sublime goals that had put Uruguay on course for a quarter-final date with France.

Uruguay — which had just retaken the lead after Pepe had pulled the European champions level — was hanging on, recording just 33 per cent possession and five shots to Portugal's 20.

As Portugal captain, Ronaldo knew that time was ticking away and he needed to keep the intensity up to give his side the best chance to get back into the game.

With Cavani limping ever so slowly towards the bench, Ronaldo simply pointed out a different, more direct route and offered his assistance, instantly creating an iconic scene.

Photo Fans scramble for their phones to record one of the iconic images of this World Cup.

Reuters: Murad Sezer

Does this all come down to game management? Or is it simply professionalism?

Cavani was injured — his subsequent substitution attested to that — but we see players wasting time regularly towards the end of tight games.

Ronaldo had no way of knowing whether his 31-year-old opponent was simply playing for time or was genuinely hurt.

In fact it appears he may have realised that as soon as he gave Cavani the initial hurry-up that there was a genuine problem — slowing his pace to match that of his clearly pained rival.

The fact that this is even up for discussion further highlights just what a divisive figure Ronaldo is to so many football fans.

The poisonous debate as to whether Ronaldo or Lionel Messi is the greatest of all time will rage and inevitably colour opinion towards one side of the argument or the other.

If we're looking for hidden meanings, how long before we make the wild leap toward assuming that Ronaldo will be unveiled as the latest addition to PSG's impressive attacking arsenal owing to his friendly gesture towards one of that team's current stars?

There's no doubt that Ronaldo's actions were commendable — and regardless of the true intention the image will go down as one of the many iconic images that will be forever associated with the Portuguese superstar.

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