Cristiano Ronaldo has quite a bit going for him as a fan favorite between his phenomenal talent and his good looks, but he may have just won over even more hearts.
Ronaldo can now claim that he played a part in getting charges dropped against a 20-year-old student who invaded the pitch at an August friendly not to light flares or to streak, but simply to embrace his favorite Real Madrid player and Ballon d’Or candidate.
Charges were dropped against the student Monday three months after Ronaldo wrote a letter asking the case to be dismissed, according to various news outlets.
During an exhibition match against Chelsea in the International Champions Cup, Canadian citizen Ronald Gjoka dashed onto the pitch in Miami and hugged the Portuguese superstar for almost a minute.
Ronaldo reacted calmly, and the two shared a conversation to the applause of the fans. Gjoka was then peacefully escorted off by security.
Gjoka was put in jail for 36 hours, according to a National Post article Tuesday, and was charged in a Florida court with trespassing and disorderly conduct.
On Monday, however, prosecutors for the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office officially dropped charges against the student.
Richard Hujber, Gjoka’s lawyer, told the National Post in an email that the Madrid star’s intervention played a part in the dismissal of the case.
“It appears the letter from Ronaldo was helpful in terms of getting the case dropped,” he said.
When Ronaldo heard in October that Gjoka was being charged for his antics, he wrote a letter defending the student and mailed it via his lawyers in Portugal to Miami.
“He was not aggressive or violent in ANY way,” Ronaldo wrote. “In addition, he did not resist security or police in any possible way.”
Ronaldo wrote that he was concerned Gjoka would face unnecessary consequences related to his immigration status and his student visa to attend Palm Beach State College as a result of the two charges.
“I understand your position and the importance of enforcing rules and laws,” Ronaldo wrote. “However, I respectfully request that you and your office reconsider this decision and dismiss the 2 criminal charges this young man faces. I do not want to see him face criminal penalties for his error. It appears that he has an extremely bright future, and I do not want to see that future detrimentally affected by this mistake in judgment.”
Hujber said Gjoka now hopes to thank his idol in person, according to a Monday Yahoo! Sports story.
Hopefully, that meeting will be under better circumstances.