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No Gods, No Heroes: Managing Madrid Crew Discuss Ronaldo Rape Allegations

*TRIGGER WARNING: This episode contains discussions about sexual violence that might be painful for survivors of sexual assault and might not be appropriate for all audiences.*

Over the last couple of days, Managing Madrid founder Gabe Lezra and his co-host Evan Mateer have been conducting interviews with a number of people about the rape allegations against Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo. The story, first broken by the crack reporting team at Der Spiegel, dates back to 2017, with the full report only becoming clear this September.

Over the last few days Gabe and Evan have spoken with their friends Chloe White (an attorney who has worked on sexual violence and women’s issues), Jess Houwen (a Managing Madrid staff writer—read Jess’s fantastic article about the Ronaldo allegations here) and Om Arvind (Managing Madrid’s managing editor—read Om’s meditation on what it feels like to be betrayed by an idol here) about the allegations for the Let’s Fix Football Podcast. Let’s Fix Football is an irreverent soccer and the law podcast that Gabe and Evan (both lawyers) have hosted for the last year.

We’ve decided to share the full podcast with you here with the hope that you will take the time to sit down and listen to the crew take a serious, thoughtful look at the subject of sexual violence, especially as that subject applies to the Cristiano Ronaldo allegations. This is a very deep dive into the allegations as we try to unpack why it’s important that we believe survivors of sexual assault, what it means when we say that exactly, and how rape culture can pervert our understanding of sexual violence.

We also discuss how survivors are reacting to the accusations, how just hearing about horrific allegations like these can trigger deep-seated memories of their own sexual assault, and on top of that, why it’s so painful for survivors to have to hear the horrific responses from Ronaldo fans that diminish and degrade woman who have come forward. We discuss why it’s crucial to center women and the victim’s pain, in any discussion about sexual violence--rather than immediately labeling the alleged perpetrator a victim, we should strive to make sure the real victim isn’t brushed aside (as often happens in sports media). And we discuss why it’s appropriate--in fact, crucial—to underline the heroism and courage of the people who have come forward with their stories, and why it is so important to stand up and say enough.

We finish by discussing what it feels like to have your idol, your hero, fall from grace, betray you like this. Is this a way in to discussing these issues with people that might otherwise be unreachable? How can we create a culture of accountability, a culture where we hold our sports heroes, our celebrities, our politicians, to the same standard that we would our friends—demand accountability, atonement, and apology?

Please consider donating to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). We will be donating any profits we make from this episode to RAINN, and we encourage our listeners to donate what they can.

Note: this post originally appeared on Ballon d’Order, a soccer and the law website managed by Gabe Lezra and Elizabeth Cotignola.