I should throw out a disclaimer right off the top. I don’t really hate Cristiano Ronaldo, the person.
For all intents and purposes, he seems like an okay guy — he does charity, has a foundation and did this in an interview, which as a person who has lived abroad in many occasions, endeared me towards Cristiano Ronaldo, the person.
Sports hatred, in my opinion, is a key but severely under-acknowledged part of being a fan. There are players and teams that, when they lose, it’s almost as good as seeing your team win. It’s dope to win the Coppa Italia, you know? But humiliating AC Milan in the final made it so much sweeter. It’s great to notch a big away win, but the fact that it was against Inter and that they choked in the last few minutes AT THE SAN SIRO? Dear God, that was amazing.
So, with that in mind, I’m going to have to acknowledge something. I hate Cristiano Ronaldo, the player.
Ever since he was a flashy young winger at Manchester United, Ronaldo has always been the target of my unending scorn. Playing for two clubs I despise — Manchester United and Real Madrid — didn’t help matters. There was always something that rubbed me the wrong way when it came to Ronaldo, and please let me acknowledge this is completely irrational. It would take the smallest thing for me to set off against him. Oh, he complained about a call? Well, look at that damn prima donna! He got angry at a teammate for not passing it to him? Check out the most selfish player in the world, everybody. This is a team sport, so not everything is about you, Ronnie.
Forget the fact that complaining to the ref about calls and gesturing to your teammates about your positioning is something that damn near every single football player does...
I remember being outraged that Ronaldo took his shirt off in the 2014 Champions League final against Atletico Madrid after scoring the “nail in the coffin” penalty.
Doesn’t he respect the game?! The opponent?! It’s a meaningless goal, the game was already settled!
I did this with the most righteous and unbearable tone possible. Hot take artists would be proud of me.
Disregard the fact that if I had an 8-pack like Ronaldo I would refuse to wear a shirt at any moment in time, I would move to a beach and get a job as a lifeguard if that’s what it took.
Again, this is all completely irrational. What I thought of as arrogance, other people would call it confidence. What I labeled as selfishness could be seen as competitive spirit and a will to win. The same things I would admire in players I liked, I would criticize in Ronaldo.
The fact that he beat my teams in both the Champions League and the Euros was the cherry on top of the hatred sundae. Thanks to that idiot, I thought, I now have to see his perfect bicycle kick against Juventus in Champions League highlight packages for the rest of my life. I bet huge on France to win the Euros in 2016.
Sports hating Ronaldo was a hill I was willing to die on.
This signing might be the biggest move that Juventus has made in the last 20 years, and it signals a change in attitude and in what is possible for this club, both in sporting terms and organizational terms. And I could not be more conflicted.
Look, in a vacuum, my favorite team getting the best pure striker in the world is a good thing. Adding a guy that has scored 120 (!!!) goals in the Champions League is a great thing. No matter how you slice it, adding a guy that many people consider the best player in the world to an already pretty good squad, is undeniably a positive thing.
(I will not even entertain the Messi vs Ronaldo debate, even as a Ronaldo hater, it was always and forever will be a dumb debate. They are different players, playing different positions. Stop it.)
With this move Juventus should be the runaway favorite to repeat as Italian champions and sports books reflect that they are also one of the favorites to win that elusive European silverware. I work at a fairly big retail store and I know for a fact that we have doubled our order of Juventus kits for the upcoming season.
THIS IS A GOOD THING.
Now, I have a couple months to get over my sports hatred, a couple months until the Allianz Stadium PA introduces Ronaldo as the newest No. 7 for Juventus as part of the starting lineup. It probably won’t take all that longer for him to score and for the first time in my life, be happy that Ronaldo did a good thing.
Change is good, they tell me.
Damn it, I might even buy the jersey.
Neymar, though? I will die on that sports hate hill, stop acting like you just suffered an exposed fracture every time a player makes the slightest contact with you. GET UP AND PLAY!