Portugal coach bemoans risk to player safety as pitch invaders chase Ronaldo selfies

Fans get on to pitch during and after Portugal 3-0 Turkey

AFP June 23, 2024


Portugal coach Roberto Martinez said it was lucky that none of the multiple fans who invaded the pitch during his team's Euro 2024 game against Turkey on Saturday had ill intentions after several supporters ran on looking for a selfie with Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Group F match in Dortmund, which Portugal won 3-0, was interrupted on several occasions in the second half as pitch invaders got away from security in an attempt to take a photograph with the 39-year-old superstar.

The first fan, a young boy wearing a red tracksuit top, emerged from the stand behind the benches midway through the second half and made his way towards the Portugal skipper.

Ronaldo posed smiling for a photo before the pitch invader ran off trying to escape stewards.

They eventually caught up with him and escorted him away to applause from the stands.

At least five other fans managed to get onto the pitch atempting to pull off the same stunt, either during the match or after the final whistle, but Ronaldo grew increasingly exasperated with the unwanted attention.

"It is a concern because today we were lucky that the intentions of the fans were good," Martinez told reporters following the match, after Portugal secured qualification for the last 16.

"I think that we all love a fan who recognises the big stars who are icons in their lands.

"I think we all agree with that, but you can understand that it is a very difficult moment if those intentions are wrong.

"Then the players are exposed and we need to be careful with that. Probably there is a lot of security and protection and I don't think it should happen."

Martinez, the Spanish former Belgium boss, added: "Probably we should give a message to the fans that it is not the right way.

"You are not going to get anything out of it and what you do is that probably the measures get worse for the future and it is not good to get the players so exposed when you get people running on the pitch."

However, Ronaldo is one of the most recognisable celebrities on the planet and his teammate Bernardo Silva -- who scored the first goal in the game -- admitted all the attention was the price to pay for such levels of fame.

"I am not really concerned. It is just a bit annoying in terms of always having to stop the game because a fan enters the pitch," Manchester City player Silva said.

"Apart from that I thnk that is the price you pay for being so recognised in the world of football. But in terms of feeling in danger I don't think so, not me personally at least."


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