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Protesters Fly Banner Against Cristiano Ronaldo Above Old Trafford

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Protesters Fly Banner Against Cristiano Ronaldo Above Old Trafford

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United was met with a protest on Saturday, as a banner in support of his rape accuser was flown over Old Trafford.

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Ronaldo was obviously the main football story of the day, although Emma Raducanu rightly stole the sports headlines later on Saturday, as he made his first appearance for United in 12 years.

The 36-year-old didn't take long to get himself back on the scoresheet for United, opening the scoring at the end of the first half, and bagged a brace to set up their 4-1 win over Newcastle United, to send them top of the Premier League.

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Not everyone was happy to see him back though. There were reports on Saturday morning that there would be protests against the former Juventus forward, and they did take place.

Feminist group Level Up flew a banner over Old Trafford during the game in support of the woman who has accused Ronaldo of rape, reading "Believe Kathryn Mayorga."

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Mayorga accused the five time Ballon d'Or winner of rape in the summer of 2009, whilst he was on holiday in Las Vegas ahead of his move from United to Real Madrid.

The allegations didn't become public until 2017, when it was reported by Der Spiegel as part of the Football Leaks site's reports, that also accused Manchester City of breaking UEFA financial fair play rules.

Ronaldo took to Twitter after the report came out to deny the claims, saying, "I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me.

"Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in. Keen as I may be to clear my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense."

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Ronaldo celebrates with Jesse Lingard after Saturday's game. Image: PA Images
Ronaldo celebrates with Jesse Lingard after Saturday's game. Image: PA Images

On the protests, co-director of Level Up, Janey Starling, told the Times, "One of the world’s most famous athletes has been accused of rape, but there has been almost universal silence.

"Manchester United have not acknowledged that there are unresolved rape allegations against Ronaldo, and are giving him a hero’s welcome. As a society, we can’t let a woman’s story of rape be silenced.

"This campaign originated with a male United fan, who came to us and said, ‘This is really uncomfortable, no one is talking about it. There is a culture of silence around it.'

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"There are people out there who are really uncomfortable with what is going on, all the fanfare."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Football, Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United, Premier League

Ryan Sidle
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