RIO DE JANEIRO, June 17- Portugal denied midfielder Raul Meireles gave a World Cup referee the finger in his side’s stormy 4-0 defeat to Germany, insisting that he was merely gesturing a tactical switch.
Pictures on social media show Meireles, who sports a distinctive Mohawk hairstyle, raising the third finger on both hands to referee Milorad Mazic who had sent off Real Madrid defender Pepe.
But the the Portuguese football federation (FPF) defended the Fenerbahce player, claiming there was nothing vulgar about the gesture.
“He was passing on to teammate Bruno Alves the instructions being relayed by coach Paulo Bento,” said a FPF statement.
Mwenahile, Cristiano Ronaldo’s poor performance for Portugal in their 4-0 defeat to Germany at the World Cup won him few friends in the media as his German nightmare continued.
Monday’s Group G drubbing was the fourth time in a row Ronaldo has lost to Germany after defeats at the 2006 World Cup, plus the 2008 and 2012 European championships.
The 29-year-old World Player of the Year endured an afternoon to forget at Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova where he was over-shadowed by Thomas Mueller’s hat-trick.
Ronaldo’s fortunes were summed up when one of his trademark free-kicks cannoned off the German wall in the second-half leaving the Portugal captain with his head in his hands.
He stormed through the mixed zone after the game refusing to answer reporters questions.
“Until his free-kick, he didn’t really do anything,” said Germany right-back Jerome Boateng, who was marking Ronaldo.
The world’s media were equally unimpressed.
“CR kept himself well hidden,” judged Portuguese daily newspaper Publico, “A shadow of himself” summed up Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo.
German daily Bild went with the headline: “Ron-NIL-do”, failing to hide their glee after he was unsuccessful in any of his five shots on goal.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento was terse when asked about Ronaldo’s condition, both physically and mentally, after the match.
“From a physical perspective, we can only say that he’s doing well,” said Bento after Ronaldo came into the Salvador game on the back of knee and thigh injuries.
Boateng also revealed how the Germans dealt so effectively with the Real Madrid star.
“The whole team worked together, with a player like that, he’ll always beat his man, so you have to make sure the next one is there, that was the key,” said the Bayern Munich defender.
Portugal have injury concerns ahead of their next match against the USA on June 22 with striker Hugo Almeida and defender Fabio Coentrao both having suffered leg injuries.
Bento will also be without centre-back Pepe, who is suspended after aiming a head-butt at Mueller in the first-half.