Barcelona legend Ronaldinho exacted revenge on outgoing Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos with victory in the pair’s COVID-19 charity FIFA 21 bout – two days after being trolled by the four-time Champions League winner on Twitter.
The Samba superstar defeated Ramos twice in their best-of-three challenge series as part of the world’s biggest charity eSports event, Gamers Without Borders.
Playing as his beloved Real Madrid against Ronaldinho’s Barcelona, Ramos was left with his head in his hands after putting the ball into his own net in the 90th minute of their opening match, giving his former La Liga rival a last-gasp 1-0 win and an early series lead.
Undeterred, the five-time La Liga champion – who last week announced that he is to leave Real Madrid after 16 years at the club – fought back strongly in game two, creating several good chances early on.
But it would prove to be Ronaldinho’s day, with the Brazilian scoring late in both halves – latterly, through a wonder-goal from former team-mate Lionel Messi – to secure the bragging rights and save face after a very public trolling attempt on Ramos backfired days earlier.
On Friday – hours after Ramos had announced he was to leave Real Madrid – ‘Ronnie’ sent a photograph of him about to dribble past the Los Blancos legend from 2007, with the caption “Hey @SergioRamos – remember this night?!”
Ramos had the last laugh, however, responding with an image of his own – his Real Madrid side celebrating winning that year’s La Liga title just a few months later with an open-top bus tour through the Spanish capital, with the caption: “I do… but this one a few months later was way better @10Ronaldinho”.
Both players were then propositioned by Gamers Without Borders to compete in the festival’s weekend FIFA 21 tournament for a $50k charity prize fund – an offer they accepted – and money both players today handed over to UNICEF to support COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the world’s most vulnerable nations.
Ronaldinho said: “I’ve played FIFA for a long time but a lot more lately. Playing against my old rival Sergio was a lot of fun. We’ve obviously played a lot of big matches against each other in the past, but this was different and I liked it.
“I’m very happy to have been part of Gamers Without Borders and enjoyed it a lot. When it comes to an event like this, I’m always ready to help. Thanks to everyone who watched the match – and a huge hug to Sergio Ramos.”
With a huge summer of football already underway, Ronaldinho was asked how he saw the remainder of Euro 2020 playing out, and what country he could see having an impact.
Despite Friday night’s 0-0 draw against Scotland, the 2002 World Cup winner backed England to do well – the nation he knocked-out with a quarter-final free-kick en route to international glory 19 years ago.
He said: “I don’t have a favourite but there’s many great players in the tournament, many great teams and many great candidates to win. England have a solid chance as they’re an excellent team.”
The $50k charity exhibition match was part of an epic opening weekend of the Gamers Without Borders’ elite series, an initiative created by the Saudi Esports Federation.
That epic nature will continue tomorrow, when Britain’s reigning world heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua will play Manchester United and England midfielder Jesse Lingard on FIFA 21 at 12pm CEST (11am UK).
‘AJ’ said: “I’m a massive FIFA 21 fan and, like millions across the world, gaming has helped us stay close to mates recently - no matter where we are. It’s a powerful community who can come together to do good as we try to knockout COVID-19. Jesse has been in decent form on the pitch, but let’s see what he’s got in the virtual world where I’ve got a chance at least!”
Their three-match series will be streamed live on Gamers Without Borders’ Facebook, YouTube and Twitch streams, with both superstar athletes being interviewed in the esports festival’s unique virtual studio afterwards.
To get involved or simply to find out more, head to www.gamerswithoutborders.com
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