REAL Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages yesterday over a claim that he put his injured ankle at risk by “living it up” in a Hollywood nightclub.
Ronaldo was not at London’s High Court for the settlement against Telegraph Media Group over a July 2008 story “Ronaldo back in the limelight”.
His solicitor Allan Dunlavy told Mrs Justice Sharp that it caused embarrassment, offence and distress to the player who, as a professional, was concerned about his own reputation and how it might be perceived by his then club Manchester United, manager Alex Ferguson and fans.
Dunlavy said the newspaper now accepted the allegations were untrue, apologised, and had agreed to pay Ronaldo substantial damages and his legal costs.
Dunlavy said that the story appeared alongside a photo of Ronaldo on crutches in Los Angeles, where he had travelled to attend a sports award ceremony in which he had been nominated for Best Male International Athlete.
The newspaper reported that on arrival, Ronaldo “headed straight for” a nightclub where he put his crutches down to take to the dance floor with four models before being served “£10,000 worth of Cristal champagne”.
It alleged this would dismay his boss Ferguson.
“The claimant was in Los Angeles, having gone there on holiday in the knowledge and with the advance permission of his club, his manager, Alex Ferguson, his surgeon and his physio, and while he did attend the nightclub in question, he did not drink any alcohol at all whilst there, nor at any time whilst in Los Angeles.
“He does not, as a rule, drink alcohol because he takes his health, fitness and recovery from injury very seriously. Nor did he put his crutches down to take to the dance floor despite the risk to his injured ankle.
“Instead, he sat in a private corner as arranged in advance, along with friends who had travelled to Los Angeles with him, resting his foot as advised and drinking non-alcoholic energy drinks at all times under the care and supervision of the respected Portuguese national team physio Antonio Gaspar, who had also travelled to Los Angeles at the request of the claimant and with the agreement of Manchester United.”
The paper’s solicitor Helen Morris said it accepted the allegations were false.
In a statement, Ronaldo said: “I am delighted with this outcome. I take enormous pride in my professionalism.”
Ferguson said in a statement: “The article was entirely false. Cristiano is the consummate professional and he takes his health and fitness very seriously.”
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