Portugal coach Fernando Santos threw his support behind Cristiano Ronaldo on Friday after the Real Madrid superstar was widely lambasted for describing Iceland as having a “small mentality” following their 1-1 draw at Euro 2016.
Portugal were held in their opening Group F match on Tuesday by the Nordic island nation and Ronaldo slammed Iceland for their defensive approach, prompting a stream of criticism.
“When people talk about fair play, sometimes it makes me want to laugh,” said Santos ahead of Saturday’s crucial clash with Austria in Paris.
“Because when we talk about other people and other people’s reactions, in Portugal we usually say that if you don’t feel, you’re not really a good person.”
Iceland midfielder Kari Arnason labelled Ronaldo “not a gracious human being” for his petulant post-match rant.
However, Santos claimed Iceland had no reason to be upset after their coach Lars Lagerback had stoked tensions before the game by claiming Portugal defender Pepe’s play-acting when representing Real Madrid in the Champions League final had been worthy of a Hollywood performance.
“After what the Iceland manager said and some players said, what they did for 90 minutes, they booed Pepe and Ronaldo.”
“The players on the bench kept heckling Pepe, so like I said we have feelings and sometimes will respond the way we can in a very emotional way.”