45,000 Real Madrid Fans Wear Cristiano Ronaldo Masks to Support Ballon d’Or Candidacy (Photo)

Spain Soccer Champions LeagueReal Madrid has Cristiano Ronaldo‘s back, and that’s all he really wanted.

Two of Real Madrid’s biggest supporters groups backed Ronald’s candidacy for the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or Award with a club-sanctioned love-in at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. It included large banners, tens of thousands of No. 7 placards and 45,000 masks with the picture of the Portuguese superstar’s face. Real Madrid fans wore them as their team took the field for Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League game, Metro reports.

“A ten-meter wide banner reading ‘Our unconditional support for ‘Comandante’ Cristiano. For the Ballon d’Or and La Decima’ was also unveiled in the stands [‘La Decima’ referring to Real’s bid for a tenth European Cup title],” the report says. “Another six-metre-high banner, read ‘We are all Cristiano’.”

A thigh injury kept Ronaldo, 28, from playing in the game, but he was on hand to witness the spectacle.

Last year, Ronaldo asked to leave Real Madrid, citing his unhappiness with life at the club. One reported reason was that he felt Real Madrid hadn’t offered him enough support in his pursuit of the sport’s most prestigious individual awards. Despite his legendary goal-scoring heroics, he has lost out to rival superstar Lionel Messi in the voting for the last four FIFA Ballon d’Or Awards, which recognizes soccer’s best player in the calendar year. After protracted negotiations, he signed a contract extension in September and said he would stay for five more years.

This year, Real Madrid is putting the weight of its institution behind Ronaldo’s Ballon d’Or bid. It forced FIFA president Sepp Blatter to apologize for comments he made about Ronaldo last month and has backed the fans’ salute to their hero. Club officials are expected to attend the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland, on Jan. 13.

Ronaldo has held up his end of the bargain by scoring key goals and delivering unbelievable performances for Real Madrid and Portugal’s national team. However, there are rumors that Ronaldo, this year’s front-runner, could boycott the presentation early next year.

See the Ronaldo masks below.

Cristiano Ronaldo mask

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Photo via Twitter/@dermotmcorrigan