Madrid asks Blatter to apologize to Ronaldo

The Associated Press

MADRID (AP) -- Real Madrid has asked FIFA President Sepp Blatter to apologize for making fun of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Blatter recently told an audience at Oxford University that Ronaldo is ''like a commander on the field of play'' before strutting around the stage.

Blatter said he preferred Barcelona rival Lionel Messi.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti says club President Florentino Perez has sent a letter to Blatter asking him to ''rectify what I consider a lack of respect for a serious and professional player.''

Blatter later responded by saying Ronaldo was an ''exceptional'' player.

In a statement provided to the AP, FIFA said that Blatter had ''confirmed in letters sent to Real Madrid CF as well as the Portuguese Football Association that Cristiano Ronaldo is an exceptional player - as he had already mentioned at the Oxford University event last Friday, and on many other occasions.''

FIFA included Ronaldo and Messi on Tuesday among the 23 finalists for the Ballon d'Or award, given to the world player of the year.

''Messi is a good boy, that every father and every mother would like to have at home,'' Blatter said. ''He's a kind man, a good boy. That's what makes him so popular, and naturally he'll always get a lot of votes because he plays well and scores goals.''

Then, while comparing Messi and Ronaldo, Blatter made a joke about Ronaldo's hair.

''They don't have the same attitude and that gives life to football. One has more expenses for the hairdresser than the other but that doesn't matter,'' Blatter said.

Ancelotti defended Ronaldo's character.

''I haven't spoken to Ronaldo about this,'' Ancelotti said. ''I think he shows every day and in every match that he is a serious and professional player that respects everyone.''

Ronaldo also received support in Portugal.

Portuguese soccer federation president Fernando Gomes said Ronaldo is ''often misunderstood because he's forthright and honest,'' and that his frankness sometimes ''gives rise to a negative image.''

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