Rape. It’s a tough subject that most people would rather avoid talking about, but we must.

TURIN, ITALY - MARCH 12: Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus gestures during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Juventus and Club de Atletico Madrid at Allianz Stadium on March 12, 2019 in Turin, . (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
TURIN, ITALY – MARCH 12: Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus gestures during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Juventus and Club de Atletico Madrid at Allianz Stadium on March 12, 2019 in Turin (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

Women spend a lot of their time, rightly, worried that they could be raped at any time, in any place, by any man around. It’s a pernicious wariness that most men are completely oblivious of.

By consistently weighing false accusations significantly more heavily than actual rapes, the media has given some men the erroneous belief that they are at as much risk of being falsely accused as women are of being raped, not that the two are even comparable even if they were comparable in their numbers.

They aren’t.

Image source

In fact, men are more likely to be raped themselves than be the victim of a false rape accusation.

In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, can you help a young woman and her young child escape domestic abuse at the hands of an older man?

But it is that narrative that allowed millions of people and hundreds of publishers to marvel at the ‘wonder’ that is Cristiano Ronaldo as he scores another hattrick for Juventus to secure their passage in the Champions League or another Serie A title.

When Ronaldo plays well, it is a tough read in the world of football twitter and for the first time since I signed up for the service a decade ago, in October 2018 I had to shut it down, disgusted at what I was seeing, not from randos on Twitter, but from people I follow.

Hero worship in full flow.

ESPN have done a good job of explaining why there hasn’t been much movement in the latest case against Ronaldo, but it still does not explain why there is such apathy in the world when it comes to the accusations laid at his feet.

It’s like the Michael Jackson documentary taught us nothing about taking the alleged crimes of famous people as seriously as the ‘talents’ that made them famous in the first place.

Those who spent a lot of time being outraged over a player being punched by a fan had little to say when Spiegel released what can only be said to be damming evidence against the Portuguese mega-star.

That player puncher spent the next 14 weeks in jail, his life no doubt in complete and utter turmoil for his one moment of madness. He was held to account, swiftly and harshly, both by society and the legal system. But, then again, he’s not a multi-millionaire able to use expensive lawyers to wear down his accuser and delay the legal process until time runs out.

Ronaldo stands accused not only of raping a woman in 2009 but of admitting to it and paying for her silence. Where there is one there is most likely to be others, I thought to myself, and it didn’t take long to find them.

In 2005, a woman accused Ronaldo of raping her at a luxury London hotel.

Daily Telegraph 20 October 2005
Daily Telegraph 20 October 2005

The Crown Prosecution Service eventually said there was not enough evidence to proceed.

The lawyer dealing with the most recent case admitted he was also investigating claims from three other women.

Scottish Daily Mail, 7 October 2018
Tehran Times, via Daily Mail, 9 October 2018

That’s five women alleging Ronaldo raped or sexually assaulted them.

Is that enough?

How many others have been too afraid to come forward?

And how many does the footballing world need before it stops treating him like a hero?

If you, or someone you know, have been affected by rape or sexual assault and are in need of help, please follow this link to the Rape Crisis Centre (England & Wales). National helplines can be found here for those who do not live in England and Wales.

In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, can you help a young woman and her young child escape domestic abuse at the hands of an older man?