Serbia's firefighters auction Ronaldo's armband to help sick infant
"Ronaldo was agitated (and when) he threw the armband, it fell right next to me," said the firefighter.
The Portugal captain’s armband, which Cristiano Ronaldo angrily threw on the ground after his goal was incorrectly disallowed in a soccer World Cup qualifier against Serbia at the weekend, was picked up by Djordje Vukicevic, a duty firefighter.
The blue armband with a white letter C was then put up for a charity auction by Vukicevic and his colleagues from Belgrade's firefighting brigade to collect money for the treatment of six-month-old Gavrilo Djurdjevic from Serbia, who is suffering from spinal muscular atrophy.
"Ronaldo was agitated (and when) he threw the armband, it fell right next to me," Vukicevic told Reuters on Thursday (Apr 1).
On Saturday, the 36-year-old Ronaldo, who plays his club football for Italian champions Juventus, stormed off the pitch and threw down the captain's armband when he was denied a clear stoppage-time winner in the 2-2 draw in Serbia.
Many Serbians resort to fundraising and humanitarian auctions to collect money for medical treatments abroad when they cannot get adequate treatment at home.
Vukicevic said he was ready to sell any memorabilia he could collect from players to help Gavrilo's parents collect 2.5 million euros (S$4 million) for his treatment, but that the armband was a score.
"The entire crew agreed this (armband) will go for little Gavrilo," he said.
In the village of Cumic, just outside the city of Kragujevac in central Serbia, Gavrilo's mother Nevena said the family had received donations of around 500,000 euros so far.
She added that the proceeds from Ronaldo's armband would be a significant contribution.
"We could not believe that some people who do not even know us ... would take the armband, auction it and help our child," she said.
So far, bidders have offered around six million dinars (S$80,760) during the auction on Serbia's Limundo e-commerce platform.
"This captain's armband, which has attracted the most media attention of all armbands ever, can be yours if you join this charity auction and bid," the advertisement says.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic and Fedja Grulovic; Editing by Ken Ferris)