A young Everton fan responds to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Old Trafford invite as the mum of the child slams Man Utd and the player’s apology.
The 14-year-old boy was allegedly ‘assaulted’ and ‘bruised’ by the Portugal international at Goodison Park after the Toffees won 1-0 to ease relegation fears.
Sarah Kelly, from Upton, took her son Jake Harding to the game for his first match. The two sat in the Park End, and the boy was filming the players leaving the pitch at full time when Ronaldo is alleged to have whacked a mobile phone out of his hand hand.
Sarah told Liverpool ECHO that the phone belonged to Jake and claimed that Ronaldo “assaulted” him, bruising his hand, by knocking the object to the floor.
Merseyside Police said on Saturday that they was investigating reports that a boy had been allegedly assaulted by an away player.
Additionally, The Football Association (FA) told the ECHO on Monday: “We are aware of the incident and will be seeking observations on the matter from both clubs and the player involved.”
A spokesperson for Manchester United confirmed that the club will cooperate with the FA and the police’s inquiries while Ronaldo took to Instagram on Saturday night to apologise for his ‘outburst’.
He said: “It’s never easy to deal with emotions in difficult moments such as the one we are facing. Nevertheless, we always have to be respectful, patient and set the example for all the youngsters who love the beautiful game. I would like to apologize for my outburst and, if possible, I would like to invite this supporter to watch a game at Old Trafford as a sign of fair-play and sportsmanship.”
Cristiano Ronaldo allegedly smashes a fan’s phone after defeat to Everton 😱
And Sky Sports report Manchester United are investigating.
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) April 9, 2022
Sarah said the ECHO on Monday that she has been contacted by Man Utd but has been left unimpressed by the club and Ronaldo’s public response. In light of the response from Premier League side, Sarah said to the ECHO: “United have handled it terribly and it’s just made things even worse to be honest.”
Responding to to Ronaldo’s invite to Old Trafford and his apology, which she described as ‘backhanded’, Sarah said: “The way I see it is, if someone assaulted him in the street and then asked us to go around for dinner, we wouldn’t. Just because he’s Cristiano Ronaldo, why would we do it? It’s like we owe him a favour, but I’m sorry, we don’t.”
Sarah goes on: “We’ve kindly declined the offer to go to United because Jake doesn’t want to go there and he doesn’t want to see Ronaldo. He’s made that pretty clear.
“They’re not my words, they’re my son’s words. At the end of the day, this is what it’s about. It’s affected him more than it’s affected me, so I have put everything to him to make his own mind up on – he doesn’t want to go to United, he doesn’t want to go to see Ronaldo. All that I’m saying right now is that it’s in the hands of the police.”
On Monday, a Merseyside Police spokesperson told the ECHO: “Following an incident at Goodison Park on Saturday 9th April, we are working with Everton Football Club and have been in touch with the boy’s family. The matter is under investigation and we are gathering information. Our enquiries remain ongoing at this time.
“Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact Merseyside Police social media desk via Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook Merseyside Police Contact centre quoting reference number 22000243890”
Meanwhile, Sarah praised Everton, who have offered Jake a shirt signed by Jordan Pickford and Richarlison, match tickets and the chance to meet the players at some point in the future.
She said: “Everton, it’s the People’s Club and they haven’t half come through for Jake. It’s really cheered him up this afternoon. It was lovely to see because something nice has come out of something horrible.”
She continued: “He just broke down in tears when I told him what Everton were going to do for him. He just said ‘that’s why I Iove the Blues’. He’s going to get a signed shirt from Richarlison and Pickford and hopefully when things settle down with covid, they’re going to do a meet for him. He wants to meet Frank Lampard – he loves ‘Super Frank’ and hopefully they’re going to sort tickets for next week’s Leicester game.
“They asked us do we want to sit by where we were (for the Manchester United game) and that was a no straight away from Jake. He said ‘no mum, I don’t want to go back there’, so we kind of do have a bit of a bad memory.
“We’re hoping that if we sit somewhere a bit more positive and away from the away side, and more of our home side, he might feel a bit more comfortable. I’m just pleased that he’s taken the option to go back to the game.”
She told Sky News this week: “I’ve got nothing to say to him [Ronaldo].
“Why should I travel to Old Trafford? Why would ‘a Blue’ want to go to visit ‘a Red’?
“If he was genuine, I think he should have turned around at the moment of the incident, picked Jake’s phone up and been like, ‘I’m sorry.’
“That was the biggest laugh for me: ‘sportsmanship’. When you can do that to a 14-year-old boy. That’s not sportsmanship at all.”
As the young Everton fan responds to Ronaldo’s Old Trafford invite as his mum slams player’s apology, social media had their say…
@jase157: Aye, can’t blame her really. A season of watching Everton, the last thing you would want is to have to watch United as well
@sean9hughes: Poor kids done nothing wrong, why make him try to go Old Trafford and watch United
@ryheywood_: Imagine Ronaldo breaks your phone and his way of apologising is to invite you, an Everton fan, to Old Trafford, to watch United. What sort of remedy is that 🤣
@ccoburn015: Why would he want to go and watch a game at old Trafford when he’s an evertonian? Ronaldo couldn’t give a toss and it was his PR team that released that.
@TimWill77: Plus why would anyone want to go and see United anyway?? Double punishment, isn’t it?!
@CarefreeJonty: Reckon she will siuuuuu him or not?
@KanKeano_THFC: Eric Dier got a 4 match ban for confronting a fan in the stands. Didn’t lay one hand on the supporter. Ronaldo has slapped the young fan’s phone out of his hand. FA have to be consistent with this.
@HoppyAF: This is criminal damage and should be dealt with accordingly. Footballers have more than a responsibility to act as role models, they also have to behave and be treated like the rest of us as well.
@Islandgirlpixie: The amount of people that think it’s ok he struck an autistic child is disgusting. I don’t care how many games you lose or how many people film you walking off the field, it’s not ok to do this. #Scumbag