Ewan MacKenna: Cristiano Ronaldo case should be a loud warning and a sharp turning point – but will it be?

“Damn woman.”

It’s early Friday morning and the man at the bar is that rarity of a customer not staring down, transfixed, by the gambling machines on the counter top. Instead, he’s glancing up at one of the few screens not dedicated to the endless loops of sports highlights or the grim deals on offer in the casino on West Flamingo Road, a short hop from the main drag of Las Vegas.

He’s not happy so repeats himself in case anyone missed his first effort. “Damn woman.”

Christine Blasey Ford has just started her testimony to the United States’ Senate hearing into the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to their Supreme Court. She’s said she is terrified and, as she continues and recounts the alleged sexual assault that took place back in high school, this guy has long made up his mind based on his politics rather than her testimony. He hammers down his glass with an attention-grabbing clank. Soon though his mood hits an upswing as Kavanaugh is before the mic and the nation.

The judge answers a query with, “I like beer, do you like beer Senator, what do you like to drink?” He responds to another question with, “You’re asking about, yeah, blackouts. I don’t know, have you..? Yeah, I’m curious if you have”. He has crocodile tears when recalling that “I worked out with other guys at Tobin’s house”. He suggests that a reference to a devil’s triangle was a drinking game when it’s widely known as a threesome with two men and one woman. He says, in a supposed position where being apolitical is a cornerstone, that it’s a left-wing conspiracy against him.

“You tell ’em,” the man at the bar grunts. This is more to his red-blooded liking.

The opinion of a single soul probably long traded for some casino chips may not seem exactly representative of society, or at least it shouldn’t be. The problem is, it’s fast becoming that way, pushed hard by hatred and entrenchment rather than decency and facts. Those on that committee may have been better dressed and better paid and better educated and better regarded, but the vibe was the same from them as him.

Senator Oran Hatch – who when asked about Blasey Ford’s testimony said, “I think she’s an attractive, good witness” and when asked to clarify added without shame, “Oh, in other words she is pleasing” – proceeded to call even questioning this man “a national disgrace” based on the idea the alleged rape took place a long time ago. Senator Lindsey Graham went further and called it “the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics”. And then there was Donald Trump mocking someone he there and then made into a victim regardless of what really took place, all around a lack of complete clarity, to cheers from his base.

Law makers. Moral leaders. Standard bearers. Societal influencers. No wonder we find ourselves here in this pit, as the saying goes that entitlement and privilege corrupt equally. Right now they are as rampant as repugnant with so much down to power, fame and fortune. And if we get those in politics and the entertainment industry, we get them in sport too.

There was an inevitability in a post-Weinstein world that some of the bigger names in that latter arena would finally be dragged into the mire and questions and accusations would take off. Now we wait to see how they fly. But that we shouldn’t be surprised doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be outraged. So step forward Cristiano Ronaldo, in front of the looking glass.

An icon with an army of young men wanting to follow in his golden footsteps. All anyone asks is that we stare fairly at his case, although that’s the last thing that army will and are doing.

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