Cristiano Ronaldo is a millionaire superstar footballer who may well pick up the Ballon d’Or in January—but in 2013, the Real Madrid and Portugal ace showed his human side by looking out for a fan facing criminal charges.
More to the point, his intervention worked.
Ronaldo wrote a letter asking for a Florida court to drop charges against a pitch invader—and this week, according to Kevin Gray of Reuters via Yahoo! Sports, they have been.
The Above Photo shows off the Fan who Invaded on the pitch and hugged Ronaldo during ICC 2013 Final match against Chelsea
In August, during Real’s pre-season friendly with Chelsea in Miami, a 20-year-old fan by the name of Ronald Gjoka ran onto the pitch and hugged Ronaldo. The situation was calm—and the pair talked for around a minute on the field.
Though the incident itself was harmless, pitch invading is taken seriously. The fan was thrown in jail for 36 hours, per the National Post, and subsequently charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Ronaldo, hearing of the fan’s predicament, wrote a letter on his behalf in October, sending it via express mail from his lawyers in Portugal to Miami-Dade County assistant state attorney Brad Mitchell’s office.
Marca reported the contents of the letter (via the Daily Telegraph):
My name is Cristiano Ronaldo and I play for Real Madrid. I was playing in Sun Life Stadium when a fan entered the field.
His name is Ronald Gjoka, a young college student. We hugged, and we spoke for a while, until security arrived to escort him off the field. He was not aggressive or violent in ANY way. What’s more, he did not put up any resistance when the security guards and police arrived.
As I understand it, he has admitted his mistake and understands the importance of security. He is a young man of twenty who grew up without a father and was raised by a single mother. He attends Palm Beach State Community College, Florida, with an international student grant.
I am concerned because I understand he may face problems with immigration and with his college if the criminal charges against him are not dropped. He was immediately taken to the Stadium’s security area and then spent a day and a half in jail.
It seems he appeared before a judge on Monday accompanied by his attorney who asked for the charges to be dropped, but you chose to ignore his appeal.
I understand your position and the importance of enforcing rules and laws. However, I respectfully request that you and your office reconsider this decision and dismiss the two criminal charges this young man faces.
I would hate to see him face criminal charges for his mistake. By all accounts he has a bright future ahead of him and I’d hate to see this future ruined by an error of judgement. Thank you. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at any time.”
No more was heard of the story for some time, but this week the charges were finally dropped.
Richard Hujber, Gjoka’s lawyer, made a point of thanking Ronaldo for his intercession, praising his “assistance and consideration” to ensure that it happened.
He added that Gjoka’s wish now is that he can thank Ronaldo in person—which might seem a little far-fetched in theory, but would actually be a neat end to a remarkable story.