Cristiano Ronaldo could make his Olympic return in Rio de Janeiro next year, 12 years after his Olympic debut at Athens 2004.
Portugal has qualified for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament for the first time since 2004. Olympic soccer teams can include a maximum of three players born before Jan. 1, 1993, so the two-time reigning FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo could be called on.
Ronaldo’s availability is complicated by Euro 2016, which will be June 10-July 10, and the start of the La Liga season, usually in mid-August. The 2016 Olympic soccer tournament runs from Aug. 3-20.
Ronaldo played for Portugal in Euro 2004 and in the Athens 2004 Olympics, when he was 19 and Euro ended July 4 and the Olympic soccer tournament began Aug. 11.
Ronaldoscored one goal for Portugal at the 2004 Olympics, two years before his World Cup debut. Portugal is best known at those Athens Games for being upset by Iraq in their opener and being eliminated in the group stage.
Cristiano Ronaldo may be the world’s best soccer player, but one award he has never won is Portugal’s Male Athlete of the Year.
Cyclist Rui Costa won the award for a third straight year Wednesday. Costa, a 2012 Olympian and the 2013 World Road Race champion, won the Tour de Suisse for a third straight year in 2014. He’s the fourth-ranked cyclist in the world for the year.
Ronaldo, a 2004 Olympian, was among five finalists for Portugal’s Sportsman of the Year in 2011, 2012 and 2013. This year, with Portugal eliminated in the World Cup group stage, no Portuguese soccer player made the nominee list of 32 men, let alone the five finalists.
A soccer player has never won Portugal’s Male Athlete of the Year, which has been given by the Portugal Sports Confederation since 2005.
The award is determined by voting from fans and personalities at the confederation’s awards gala.