Soccer

Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in El Clasico, official says

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures during the Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match between Real Madrid and Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wed. Feb. 15, 2017.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures during the Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match between Real Madrid and Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Wed. Feb. 15, 2017. AP

Cristiano Ronaldo will not be at El Clasico Miami on Saturday night.

The Real Madrid star told event organizers Friday afternoon that he could not make it because his schedule has been too full, and he has a court hearing on Monday in Madrid. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are scheduled to play at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“Unfortunately, Ronaldo’s personal commitments precluded him from being here,” Charlie Stillitano, chairman of Relevent Sports, told the Herald. “He really wanted to be here. This is not a diva situation. He was hoping that he could make it. He waited until today to let us know, but it just didn’t work out. Mr. Ross did everything possible to get him here, and Cristiano said he was very grateful for that. I’m extremely disappointed, but we still have the two best teams and the top stars minus one.”

Ronaldo did not travel with the team to its two International Champions Cup matches in California, choosing instead to take an extended summer break with his pregnant girlfriend and fly to Singapore and China for commercial obligations. His schedule this week is complicated because he is expected to be in a Madrid courtroom Monday to testify in a tax-evasion case.

Spanish prosecutors claim Ronaldo failed to pay $17 million of taxes on image rights earned between 2011 and 2014, and that he used a shell company in the British Virgin Islands to hide some of his income. He has vehemently denied the charge and says he expects to be vindicated.

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