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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The heated excitement around El Clasico Miami is reaching its boiling point.
Wednesday night’s match between Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus was viewed as a great success, but it’s only the appetizer.
Saturday’s main course between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona is coming up, but one of the big stars headlining the match may not end up playing.
Cristiano Ronaldo, viewed by many as the best player in the world and the leader of Real Madrid, has yet to confirm if he will be playing this weekend.
It’s been a busy couple months for Ronaldo.
He played for Portugal in the Confederations Cup in Russia before heading to China for a sponsor event obligation. He became a father to twins in late June and is already expecting another child.
He also has a court appearance coming up in Spain for tax-fraud charges, which is just two days after Saturday’s El Clasico Miami match.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who also owns Hard Rock Stadium and has played an integral part in bringing international soccer to the U.S., was asked about Ronaldo’s attendance status on Thursday.
“I’d like to say I’m optimistic,” Ross said. “We’ve reached out, we’ve done everything that we can. He has some complex issues, as you all know, back in Spain. He hasn’t said ‘absolutely not.’ I have a plane waiting. But I really don’t know. I can’t… I’m more, probably, pessimistic than I am optimistic; but he hasn’t said finally no. We’ll probably know relatively soon.”
The game has been billed to feature superstars like Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, with fans traveling from all over the globe to witness the soccer grudge match in Miami.
Ross seemed to have accepted that he has done everything he can to bring Ronaldo to South Florida, but now it’s out of his hands.
As a longtime sports owner and advocate of soccer, Ross understands what drives fans to attend games.
The superstar element cannot be ignored and he knows that as well as anyone.
“Popularity of soccer is growing in this country, there’s no question about it,” Ross said after listing some of the big crowds that have seen games across the U.S. in recent weeks. “It also shows you that people really want to see the great stars. The great performers. The great teams. I think that’s why you see these type of crowds.”
A sellout crowd of nearly 66,000 fans is expected for Saturday’s El Clasico match in Miami.
Whether those fans will get to see Ronaldo remains to be seen.