(Reuters) – Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli on Wednesday rejected allegations that the Italian champions acted irresponsibly after Cristiano Ronaldo did not feature in a pre-season friendly against the K League All Stars in Seoul last week.
Ronaldo was contracted to play at least 45 minutes according to event organisers but sat out the game due to ‘muscle fatigue’, leading irate fans to pursue legal action to seek compensation for the cost of tickets and “mental anguish”.
The K League said on Tuesday that it had sent a letter of protest to Juve for violating the contract but Agnelli has clarified his club’s position on the matter to K League President Kwon Oh-gap in a letter seen by Reuters.
“Every single player present in Korea… played the match, except one: Cristiano Ronaldo, who was obliged, according to our medical staff’s advice, to rest due to muscle fatigue after the Nanjing game (against Inter Milan) which was only 48 hours before the one in Seoul,” Agnelli wrote.
“Therefore, Mr President, I definitely reject your accusation of irresponsible behaviour, of arrogance, of disregard for fans, who we always honour.
“No one at Juventus wanted to bring disrepute to K League, Korea Football Association or Asian Football Confederation.”
Agnelli also blamed the circumstances leading to a delayed kick-off at the packed Seoul World Cup Stadium after Juventus took more than two hours to exit the airport and eventually reached the stadium 15 minutes after the original kick-off time.
“Juventus arrived at the hotel at 4:30 p.m. There was no time to rest or to hold regular pre-match activity,” he added.
“No police escort was provided to the Juventus bus. Traffic was really busy and the coach got stuck for almost two hours, something which has never happened in our experience all over the world.”
Juve, who are now back in Turin, begin their Serie A title defence under new coach Maurizio Sarri with a trip to Parma on Aug. 25 before a visit from his old side Napoli the week after.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)