Ronaldo on Thursday apologized for making an obscene gesture toward Corinthians fans who were upset with the surprise loss to Paulista in the Sao Paulo state championship.
A photo by the private Agencia Estado news service depicts Ronaldo showing his middle finger as he was leaving the stadium on Wednesday after the 1-0 defeat, a result that left the club in danger of not advancing to the semifinals.
Local media said about 30 fans cursed and shouted at the striker as he was about to enter a car to leave the Arena Barueri. Some called him fat.
Ronaldo said the gesture was made to someone who offended him morally and personally at the stadium’s parking lot. He did not elaborate.
“I would never make a gesture like that to Corinthians fans, who have adopted me and supported me since my arrival,” Ronaldo said. “I want to apologize if any Corinthians fans felt offended and [I want to] reiterate my admiration for them.”
Television images shown later did not clarify to whom the gesture was made, but the group of fans was in Ronaldo’s direction.
Ronaldo understood and accepted the criticism from fans, but is hoping they will start supporting the team again in the match against rival Sao Paulo tomorrow.
Corinthians, the defending state champion, is fifth in the 20-team standings, but it could drop further after Thursday’s matches. Only the top four will advance to the semifinal stage, which begins next month.
Ronaldo struggled in the team’s home loss to Paulista and admitted he was far from his best.
“I made childish mistakes,” he said.
The three-time world player of the year has scored two goals in the nine matches he has played this year. He is still a long way from reaching the physical condition that allowed him to help Brazil win the 2002 World Cup and has been rested in some of Corinthians’ matches.