Swedish defender Petronella Ekroth’s one season with Juventus F.C. Women was “a bit like I was in prison,” she told Swedish outlet Expressen, since the team was “forbidden” to speak about rape allegations against men’s star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ekroth and the Juventus women won Serie A and Coppa Italia titles last season. She returned home this summer to play for Djurgårdens IF and opened up about how Juventus handled the reopening of a rape case against Ronaldo in October.
Ronaldo was accused of rape in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009 by Kathryn Mayorga. It was a quieter note on his resume for a decade until the case was officially reopened by the Las Vegas police department last fall. While many wrestled with how to talk about Ronaldo, a 34-year-old five-time world player of the year, in this context, it seems Juventus decided the answer was simply not to talk at all.
Ekroth, 29, told Expressen she was right to stay with the club to improve as a player and person, but the organization struggled with their players holding opinions.
Via Football Italia, from Expressen:
“We were forbidden to talk about the case. We stayed silent and we couldn’t mention it. The only thing to do was keep a low profile and work towards the club’s values.
“I kept myself closeted because I felt that my opinions didn’t count. It felt a bit like I was in prison. I really couldn't do everything I wanted.
“You can show one side of the coin, but there is much more that remains hidden, things that unfortunately can’t be talked about, shown and so on.
“You’re very limited in so many things. Some things you can do and others you can’t, which isn’t good.
“I felt like I could lose a part of myself. It was difficult.”
Ekroth said the foreign players, such as herself, were not treated the same as those from Italy and at times she felt like she was on the TV show “Candid Camera.” She disagreed with how the club handled the Ronaldo news, she said, and felt she should say so but she didn’t always “have the right, either,” she told Expressen.
Ronaldo denied the rape claims after the investigation reopened and said on Instagram it was “fake, fake news.” Almost a week after the rape claims reappeared in headlines, Juventus took a strong stand on Twitter in support of the superstar The two tweets noted his “great professionalism and dedication” that was appreciated by all and said the alleged events “do not change this opinion, which is shared by anyone who has come into contact with this great champion.”
Juventus received blow back for the response, which seemed to ignore any push for fact-gathering or reasonable doubt and instead credited him for his work on the pitch.
Ronaldo told reporters in April there was a “1,000 percent chance” he was staying with Juventus rather than transfer. The club won the Serie A title and Supercoppa Italiana in his first season. His four-year contract runs through 2022.
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