Graham Cummins: Ronaldo upset Man United but it was refreshing to hear a player pull no punches

The majority of pieces are just propaganda for the club they play for and rarely do we get to hear the truth...
Graham Cummins: Ronaldo upset Man United but it was refreshing to hear a player pull no punches

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo before the interview that led to his exit. Picture: PA.

CRISTIANO Ronaldo’s sensational interview with Piers Morgan is going to have more consequences than just the Portuguese star exiting Manchester United, it’s also going to see even more censorship when it comes to footballers speaking in interviews. 

At a time when supporters are bored of hearing the same old cliches given by players when someone does decide to give his true opinion, he is scrutinised and ridiculed for it. How can we expect players to give more honest opinions, and in doing so create more interesting interviews, when people always seem to have a problem with what they say? 

They live in fear that they will either upset their own supporters, fans of other clubs, or could face disciplinary action for their comments. Players are hypocrites, what they say in front of the camera or on a social media platform, is not what they say in the dressing room after a game.

Players will often amongst one another, lambast fans for their lack of support, yet they will still claim supporters were ‘excellent’ on their social media accounts minutes later. Fans can abuse players throughout a game, and the player is expected to take it without response. 

Were the player to question the supporters for heckling him for 90 minutes, then it could lead to the them being targeted in the forthcoming games even more by supporters, and probably will get them in trouble with the manager and owner of the club, despite the player only defending himself.

Of course, Ronaldo’s exit from Old Trafford was the former Real Madrid player's purpose when arranging the interview with Morgan, but that wouldn’t be the case for others when they step in front of a camera or an audio recorder.

I believe the fallout will see further restrictions on players giving interviews. 

Every top club in the world is media training their players. Ronaldo’s outburst could see even further regulations imposed on players by the media department.

I’ve been on both sides when it comes to interviews, and have been amazed by some clubs' actions when it comes to spoon-feeding answers. 

I interviewed one player and the media office of the club required that I emailed them the questions first before the interview was conducted so that they could prepare the player to say exactly the message they want him to get across from the interview. They even went as far as making sure they sat in on the interview so the player didn’t navigate away from the scripted answers. 

PROPOGANDA

Unfortunately, that is how football is going. The majority of pieces are just propaganda for the club they play for and rarely do we get to hear the truth.

From a player’s perspective; I believe they are starting to dislike participating in interviews more than they would have in the past because they are getting tired of repeating themselves. It’s draining having to just rabble off the same lines they would have said in their previous interview. 

During my playing days, I enjoyed interacting with the press, which is probably why I got into a career in journalism, but towards the end of my time I felt so restricted in what I could say, that speaking to the press became a bit of a chore. I wasn’t able to give my honest opinion, and in the rare time I did; I was pulled aside by the manager Neale Fenn and warned that my interview was not suitable and would be fined if I spoke in that manner again. 

I went back and reviewed my words and still find it hard to believe that anyone was offended by them.

Ronaldo’s departure from Old Trafford has helped ease the burden on other clubs when it comes to warning their players about speaking out of turn. Clubs don’t have to threaten their players about what punishment they could face were to sway from the cliches, as players will be fully aware that because United imposed such a hefty punishment on Ronaldo, that now other clubs have a case to reference to were there ever a dispute between clubs and players in the future regarding unsanctioned interviews. 

Unfortunately, that just means that as supporters when it comes to pre or post-match press conferences, we could see more people switching over the channel as it will be the same words as the previous game but just spoken by a different face.

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