The Portuguese striker had been contracted to play at least 45 minutes against K-League All Stars, according to event organisers The Fasta Inc, but ultimately sat out the entire game, ignoring appeals from the sell-out 65,000 strong crowd at Seoul’s World Cup Stadium.
An online community was formed on South Korea’s Naver web portal to protest Ronaldo’s lack of participation, and two members reached out to lawyer Kim Min-ki to file a lawsuit against the match organisers.
“Many purchased tickets to see Ronaldo. The Fasta publicised that the company had a deal with Juventus which stipulated Ronaldo would play for at least 45 minutes and that Ronaldo would hold a fan signing event,” Kim told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.
Keep in mind, the promoters of this game had previously guaranteed that Ronaldo "will play at least 45 minutes." Out of Seoul WC Stadium's 12 seat sections, seats from 10 sections were sold for at least $100 USD per ticket. Five were sold for at least $200.
— Steve Han • 한만성 (@realstevescores) July 26, 2019
The lawsuit is seeking compensation of 70,000 wons ($59) per ticket, 1,000 wons for the ticket commission fee, and 1 million wons ($847) each for compensation for “mental anguish”.
“Normally, in such cases, the plaintiffs will be refunded the price of the tickets, but I put this under a special case since the company, through false advertising, took advantage of the football star’s fans,” Kim added.
“For now, we have two plaintiffs who sued the company, but I have been getting a lot of calls today and I assume there will be some 60,000 more.”
Kim told AFP news agency that the plan is to officially file the suit sometime next week if the agency does not offer a concrete plan to compensate the ticket holders before then.
@juventusfc From this moment on, there will be no fans of Juventus and Ronaldo in Korea. And do not even think about coming to Korea anymore.
— Jaewook.Kang (@demmy7387) July 26, 2019
Juventus’s Asian tour had started on July 20, when they arrived in Singapore one day before their International Champions Cup friendly against English side Tottenham Hotspur.
The Italian team’s flight from Nanjing in China was delayed, so that they landed only five hours before the scheduled start in Seoul, delaying kick-off by an hour.
Tickets for the friendly – priced between 30,000 wons (US$25) and 400,000 wons ($338) – sold out in just two and a half hours when they were released on July 3.
With frustration mounting over Ronaldo’s no show last Friday, some even chanted the name of his Argentine rival Lionel Messi.
The Fasta CEO Robin Chang confirmed to local broadcaster SBS that the contract stipulated Ronaldo play 45 minutes and said she found out that the 34-year-old would not take part 10 minutes into the second half.
“When I went to argue with (Pavel) Nedved, the vice president of Juventus, all he said was ‘I also wish Ronaldo ran, but he doesn’t want to. Sorry, there’s nothing I can do.’ I was so frustrated,” Chang told SBS.
The Fasta issued a press release on Saturday saying Juventus did not abide by the terms of the contract.
Juventus and TheFasta (agency) didn't manage the situation well. Lost many fans that night.
The most hated club in Italy and South Korea pic.twitter.com/x28ge7VQMP
— satub (@SatubBagus) July 29, 2019
South Korea’s professional football governing body, K League, said on Tuesday that it had sent a letter of protest to Juventus for violating the contract and also for the club’s “carelessness” and “arrogance”, reported The Korea Times.
“We said in the complaint that Juventus has lost its decades-long reputation with Korean football fans and media overnight after the exhibition match,” a K League official was reported as saying by The Korea Times.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo has been subjected to a backlash on social media.
“He betrayed the audience and belittled us,” a Korean who attended the game posted on Instagram. “I’m no longer a Ronaldo fan.”