The Ballon d’Or awards were announced on Monday, with Lionel Messi winning it for a record-setting sixth time. He moved past Cristiano Ronaldo, who has racked up five Ballon d’Or wins in his career.
Ronaldo wasn’t present at the ceremony . He was apparently busy picking up another award at the Gran Gala del Calcio in Milan.
But something else conspired behind the Real Madrid legend’s back before the start of the ceremony. Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk was being interviewed by a reporter . When asked if Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence meant there was one less rival to worry about, he quipped,
Is Cristiano Ronaldo really a rival?
This riled up a lot of Ronaldo loyalists. One of them was Ronaldo’s sister, Katia Aveiro , who took to Instagram to try and give Virgil Van Dijk a befitting reply, which she went on to delete later. But beIN Sports correspondent Tancredi Palmeri snagged a screenshot first.
Her Instagram post quickly drew controversy, not just because of what she said, but how she said it. When she started typing her reply to Virgil Van Dijk, she referred to Ronaldo in the third person – only to very abruptly switch to the first person.
Here’s an example:
It is right and known that Ronaldo will not win tonight’s award. Although I won important collective titles… but that’s another conversation and that up front we will see where the truth about football will come.
That’s not the only place where it happened. Later in the post, Aveiro said:
A thousand times look, my dear Virgil, that Cristiano Ronaldo was tri-champ in the country (England). Cristiano Ronaldo was even the best player and the best scorer where you play Virgil. By the way, I was even younger than you.
She later deleted the post, adding further fuel to simmering rumors that perhaps Cristiano Ronaldo was the real author of the post.
Then, the football star’s other sister posted and deleted a stinging post referring to UEFA’s alleged corruption and favoritism towards Lionel Messi.
So was it really Katia Aveiro, or was it Cristiano Ronaldo who posted from his sister’s account? I guess we’ll never know for sure, but the sudden switch from the third person to the first person is hard to ignore.
Plus, given Ronaldo’s extremely competitive personality and a burning desire to go down as the greatest footballer ever, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the Portuguese star felt the urge to defend his honor.