Cristiano Ronaldo may be the best-known player in the whole 2014 World Cup, having solidified his status as one of his generation's brightest lights on the pitch with his style and scoring skills. So, it's no surprise that a heartwarming tale that the Portugal star shaved the distinctive "Z" into the side of his head in honor of a baby suffering a brain disorder would go viral, retweeted and shared on social media thousands of times.
According to an article on USA Today's For The Win website, Ronaldo "was asked to donate his cleats for a charity auction benefitting a 10-month-old child suffering from a brain disorder. The world’s top soccer player went a little further than that. Ronaldo, the Real Madrid star who was Fifa’s Ballon d’Or winner as the world’s top player, will pay the full $83,000 cost of the surgery for young Erik Ortiz Cruz. Erik suffers from cortical dysplasia, a condition that can lead to as many as 30 seizures a day. When the child came to Ronaldo’s attention, he offered to pay for the costly operation."
It's a touching story with a hint of credibility since Ronaldo has a history of helping children and USA Today is a reputable news source. But the connection with the strange haircut suggested in the viral version of the story is where the tale goes awry.
"Ronaldo cut his hair to match the scar of a young fan who had surgery to remove a brain tumor last week," is the caption on the image that has spread like wildfire on social media, garnering more than 8,000 favorites and nearly 12,000 retweets for a single Twitter account between Sunday evening and Tuesday morning.
The For The Win article was published in March, long before Brazil was even ready to host the World Cup. And the claim that the soccer superstar shaved his hair in solidarity with a child with a brain tumor doesn't hold up, as cortical dysplasia is a brain condition unrelated to tumors. Lastly, reliable sources including Ronaldo have not said anything about a connection between the boy and the footballer's wacky haircut.
It appears that this is just another case of a Web hoax gone wild.