Misleading: Photo shows Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid's Valdebebas training ground after Portugal's exit from FIFA World Cup.

By: Anurag Baruah
December 21 2022

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Misleading: Photo shows Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid's Valdebebas training ground after Portugal's exit from FIFA World Cup.


The Verdict Misleading

While Ronaldo did train at Valdebebas, the photo has been altered to show the same. The original photo is of the athlete in Qatar before a match.

Claim ID b896d139


Following Portugal's exit from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 after it lost to Morocco in the quarter-finals, skipper Cristiano Ronaldo is back training at his former club Real Madrid's Valdebebas training ground. In a report published on December 14, quoting unnamed sources, sports news website ESPN wrote that Ronaldo, who is currently without a club, asked for permission to train at Real Madrid City, a request that was accepted by the club. The report added that on December 14, Ronaldo trained alone on a separate pitch, at a distance from where Madrid's first-team squad was training with manager Carlo Ancelotti. 

Amid such developments, a Twitter user posted a photo of Ronaldo on December 15, 2022, claiming that the picture shows him recently training at the Valdebebas training ground. Several social media posts and websites, including those in Spanish and Bengali, have used the same photo to make similar claims. 

In Fact

After a reverse image search, we found the original photo was uploaded on Getty Images on December 5, 2022. The caption stated that the photograph captures Ronaldo attending a training session at the Al Shahaniya SC training site northwest of Doha, Qatar. The caption also clearly stated that AFP photographer Patricia De Melo Moreira captured the photo on the eve of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 football match between Portugal and Switzerland.

After comparing the photo in the claim and the original photo shared on Getty Images, we noticed that the Real Madrid logo was digitally added to the wall beside which Ronaldo was standing. Portugal's logo was also erased from the footballer's jersey in the digitally-altered photo. The Getty Images photo clearly shows Ronaldo in a Portugal jersey, and the wall next to him is blank without any logos. 

We also found another photo on Getty Images of Ronaldo taken on December 5, 2022 at the training site. This photograph was also taken by Moreira, who captured the 37-year-old athlete in the same attire. This photo also had no Real Madrid logo on the wall beside the footballer, which further confirmed that the photo in the claim had been digitally altered. It is clear that the photo actually shows Ronaldo at a training site northwest of Doha before the Round of 16 match between Portugal and Switzerland and not at Real Madrid's training ground. The match was held on December 7, 2022. 

However, while the shared photo does not show Ronaldo at Valdebebas, the footballer did train there around December 14, as mentioned in the ESPN report. The story also mentioned that according to news reports, Ronaldo has been offered to join Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr in January. However, Ronaldo is yet to confirm the development. 

Meanwhile, a tweet by Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano also confirmed that Ronaldo had trained at Real Madrid sporting center Valdebebas. "Cristiano Ronaldo has trained at Real Madrid sporting center Valdebebas in the last hours – on a separated pitch #Ronaldo As revealed by @relevo/@hugocerezo, Cristiano's just working there to keep his form thanks to great relationship with the club, waiting for new chapter," his tweet read. A report by The Indian Express report revealed that Ronaldo's return to Real Madrid's Valdebebas training ground is his first since leaving the Spanish club for Juventus in 2018. The report added that Ronaldo has a good relationship with Madrid president Perez, who permitted him to train at the Valdebebas sporting center. After mutually terminating his deal with Manchester United in November 2022, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is currently not a part of any club.

The Verdict

While it is true that Cristiano Ronaldo trained at Real Madrid's Valdebebas after Portugal's elimination from the FIFA World Cup, the photo claiming to show the footballer at the facility is not from the Spanish club's training ground. The original photo, which was altered to show Ronaldo at Valdebebas, is actually of the Portugal skipper at a training facility in Qatar on the eve of a 2022 World Cup match. Therefore, we are marking the claim as misleading.

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