Sports

Cristiano Ronaldo Hikes Up Shorts, Bares Thighs, Exits World Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to take a free kick.
Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to take a free kick during the Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match between Uruguay and Portugal at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi on June 30, 2018.
ODD ANDERSEN/Getty Images

On Saturday, hours after Lionel Messi and Argentina got bounced from the World Cup after a 4–3 defeat to France, Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s thigh muscles exited the stage at the hands of Uruguay. The 2–1 victory was all the more spectacular for La Celeste given that it had to overcome a first-half Ronaldo free kick. Although the kick didn’t go into the back of the net, the Uruguayan players were doubtless intimidated by the Portuguese star’s leg-baring technique.

Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo gets ready to kick a free kick.
Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo gets ready to kick a free kick during the Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match between Uruguay and Portugal at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi on June 30, 2018.
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/Getty Images

This wasn’t the first time Ronaldo pulled off this maneuver during the 2018 World Cup.

Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to shoot a free kick.
Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to shoot a free kick during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Portugal and Morocco at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 20, 2018.
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

Nor was it the second time Ronaldo pulled off this maneuver during the 2018 World Cup.

Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to take a free kick.
Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to take a free kick during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Portugal and Spain at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi on June 15, 2018.
PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/Getty Images

Ronaldo and his hiked-up shorts executed a spectacular free-kick goal in Portugal’s first game of the tournament, tying Spain 3–3 thanks to this late, nude-legged strike.

Mike Phelan, who was a coach for Manchester United during Ronaldo’s tenure with the club, wrote for the Daily Mail this week that the global icon’s free-kick stance is in large part a branding exercise. “He is the ultimate showman. He has that slight arrogance. When he pulls those shorts up and shows his thighs, he is saying ‘All eyes on me’ and this is going in,” Phelan wrote. “He understands the marketing side of it. The way he struts up and places it; the world is watching him.”

Ronaldo, though, wasn’t a habitual shorts-hiker when he played for Manchester United.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United lines up a free kick.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United lines up a free kick during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on May 10, 2009 in Manchester, England.
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Our man has been known to test the limits of shorts shortness in training with Real Madrid.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, with his shorts pulled up high, during a training session.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, with his shorts pulled up high, during a training session at UCLA on August 1, 2012 in Los Angeles, California, ahead of the World Football Challenge friendly match between the giants of Spanish football, Real Madrid, and the LA Galaxy of the MLS, on August 2.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/Getty Images

But Ronaldo was showing just a little bit of knee when he took this free kick for Real Madrid last year.

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo prepares for a free kick.
Real Madrid’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo prepares for a free kick during the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg football match Real Madrid vs FC Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, on April 18, 2017.
CHRISTOF STACHE/Getty Images

His shorts were also down in the typical shorts-wearing position in last year’s Confederations Cup.

Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo prepares for a free kick.
Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo prepares for a free kick during the 2017 Confederations Cup semi-final football match between Portugal and Chile at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 28, 2017.
AFP Contributor/Getty Images

Ronaldo’s thighs, perhaps, come out only on the world’s biggest stage. (And during training, so they can prepare for the world’s biggest stage.) In Russia in 2018, those thighs were ready for their moment. Unfortunately, the rest of Ronaldo’s body and the nation of Portugal couldn’t live up to their impossibly high standards.

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the 2018 World Cup.