Cristiano Ronaldo appeals for Miami soccer fan arrested for hug

Sat Oct 5, 2013 2:11am EDT
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By David Adams

MIAMI (Reuters) - Real Madrid soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is appealing to Florida officials to drop charges against an over-enthusiastic fan who was arrested during a match after rushing the field to embrace him.

Ronaldo, one of the world's highest-paid athletes handled the incident calmly during a match in Miami in August, even chatting with the 19-year-old fan, and telling security officials to take it easy on him before he was carted away.

The Portuguese striker is now asking prosecutors to drop charges against Ronald Gjoka, a Canadian student who faces two counts of disorderly conduct and trespassing as a result of the incident in front of 70,000 fans during an International Champions Cup match in Miami between Real Madrid and Chelsea.

"I was playing at Sun Life Stadium last month when a fan entered the field," Ronaldo wrote in a hand-signed letter sent to the prosecutor.

"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," he went on, before explaining his concern that Gjoka could face immigration problems if the misdemeanor charges are not dismissed.

"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," he added.

Gjoka, who attends Palm Beach State Community College, spent a night and most of the next day in jail after the hug.

The letter was sent from Ronaldo's attorneys in Portugal after Gjoka's attorney, Richard Hujber of Boynton Beach, contacted them a few weeks after the incident.   Continued...

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo controls a ball during the soccer match against FC Copenhagen for the Champions League at Bernabeu stadium in Madrid October 2, 2013. REUTERS/Juan Medina