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Ronaldo plays down Messi rivalry

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo insists that he does not consider Lionel Messi a rival.

He has also questioned how effective FIFA and UEFA’s campaign against racism is.

The duo are up for the Ballon d’Or award on Monday night alongside Andres Iniesta, though FIFA have been in the news this week after president Sepp Blatter criticised AC Milan’s decision to walk off after racial abuse against Pro Patria.

Ronaldo, speaking at the pre-award press conference in Zurich, insisted that racism must be stamped out in football but believes the decision to leave the field of play is an entirely subjective one.

“In my honest opinion, I think this (racism) cannot happen at this moment in football,” he told reporters.

“All the time, FIFA and UEFA speak about fair play and against racism, so why does it still happen? It’s incredible, this cannot exist; it’s just a football match.

“It’s not good for the fans or anybody. We should live in peace, all of us.”

Ronaldo, when asked about Kevin-Prince Boateng’s decision to walk off, added: “It was a very personal decision by him. If he was angry or sad, that’s his decision.

“I can give you lots of examples happening in stadia today when you cannot simply walk off the pitch.

“You have to cope with these kind of fans and perhaps a few people have a few screws loose. I couldn’t give you a precise answer, whether you walk off the pitch depends on the person.”

Barcelona forward Messi is the bookies’ favourite to win the award for the fourth time in a row, with Ronaldo only getting his hands on the accolade once (in 2008), but the Madrid star insisted that he won’t lose any sleep if he fails to win.

“I have a clear conscience; I must say this award is not the end of life,” he said. “Life goes on and we have to learn from our lessons – if others win then that’s fine.

“With regards to what I have done in the last year, I think things went well, we won the league. Regardless of what happens today, I’m going to be the same man that I’ve been so far.”

This award is the sixth year in a row that Ronaldo and Messi have both been included in the final trio of nominees, but the former Manchester United attacker believes that there is no real rivalry between the pair.

“I don’t feel that I’m frustrated by Messi. He does his work for his team and so do I for mine,” he said.

“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t feel much rivalry, at least not personally. We’re here to win, we’re part of football and that’s what counts.”

When asked why he did not select Messi in the voting process, Ronaldo denied having actually cast his vote.

“I didn’t have a chance to vote myself this year as I got injured during training with the team that day,” he said.

The Portuguese star was even asked where Madrid’s head coach Jose Mourinho was and why he had chosen not to come to Zurich for the award ceremony, but Ronaldo replied with a smile: “It’s a secret!”

Mon 7 Jan, 2013
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