Ronaldo fans must stop pitch invasions, says Portugal coach

Portugal coach Roberto Martínez urged supporters not to invade the pitch to get to Cristiano Ronaldo against Georgia on Wednesday after confirming the forward will start the Group F fixture at Euro 2024.

Six different spectators breached security during and after Portugal’s win over Turkey last weekend in search of a selfie with Al Nassr‘s Ronaldo.

It has promoted UEFA to introduce additional security measures at fixtures in Germany and file criminal complaints against any supporter who invades the pitch.

“[Ronaldo] is a very experienced player who has been with the national team for over 20 years,” Martínez said in a news conference on Tuesday.

“He knows the kind of support fans provide — not just Portugal fans, but football fans in general — but I hope there won’t be any more pitch invasions.

“It is dangerous and it is not good for football. It’s not the part of the game that we want to see.”

Ronaldo, 39, smiled and posed for a picture with a young boy who evaded security to run onto the playing surface in the 70th minute.

A teenage boy then attempted to repeat the stunt 15 minutes later, but Ronaldo threw his arms in the air and waved him away before security stopped the youngster.

On both occasions, German referee Felix Zwayer was forced to delay the game until the youngsters were removed from the pitch.

Two more supporters, this time adult males, ran onto the pitch in stoppage before being stopped by security, with two more spectators repeating the trick once the final whistle had been blown.

Portugal have won both their games at Euro 2024 and are already into the round of 16, but Martínez will resist the urge to rest Ronaldo against Georgia as he seeks the goal that will make him the oldest scorer in the history of the finals.

The current record is held by Luka Modric, who was 38 years and 289 days old when he netted the first goal in Croatia‘s 1-1 draw with Italy on Monday.

“I can tell you that Ronaldo will be in the starting lineup,” Martínez confirmed. “It’s important to keep his competitive level high. It’s not good to start and stop.”

Georgia and Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is looking forward to facing a player he idolised growing up.

“Ronaldo was my boyhood idol,” Kvaratskhelia said in a news conference. “I always dreamt of playing with him. He does not play in Europe anymore, so I’m so glad to have this chance to play against him.

“Maybe it really is a time for dreams to come true, so hopefully I can get a win [against Portugal] and his shirt after the game.”

Georgia are the lowest-ranked team in the competition at 74 in the world, but a draw against Czechia in their last game means they can still reach the round of 16 if they beat Portugal.

It would represent a remarkable achievement for a nation competing at their first-ever European Championships.

“We’re confident that we can win because we went close against Turkey and the Czechia,” Kvaratskhelia said. “Anything can happen at any moment, you can create something that can be a turning point in any match.

“Not everybody was sure that we could do something here, but we are. And as long as we have even a 1% chance, we will put all our strength into playing here, to add new chapters to our history.”