Tourism Minister Roger Cook is trying to put on a brave face in light of the Cristiano Ronaldo no-show in Perth, insisting the international festival of football would still be a success without the superstar.
Ronaldo was supposed to be the star attraction of the football extravaganza but instead he is not coming to Australia — telling Manchester United he was dealing with a family matter.
The global superstar is also angling for a move to another European club after the Red Devils failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The WA Government was salivating at the prospect of Ronaldo being in Perth, planning to get maximum exposure from his visit to WA.
The 37-year-old had been pencilled in for a trip to Rottnest Island for a quokka selfie, which was expected to be relayed around the world.
“Manchester United is one of the biggest brands in the world with an incredible fan base,” Mr Cook said.
“They sell out stadiums wherever they play.
“Their big match in Perth against Aston Villa sold out very quickly.
“While it would obviously be fantastic if Ronaldo could come to Perth, we understand family comes first and support his decision.
“The ICON Festival of Football and the More Than A Match events promise to be yet another huge week in Perth for tourism and businesses.”
English Premier League powerhouses Leeds United, Crystal Palace, Manchester United and Aston Villas face off on July 22 and 23 at Optus Stadium.