Ronaldo suspended for one match over gesture in Saudi league game - GulfToday

Ronaldo suspended for one match over gesture in Saudi league game


Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his team's first goal during the Saudi Pro League football match between Al Shabab and Al Nassr in Riyadh. File / AFP

Saudi Arabia's football governing body on Thursday suspended Cristiano Ronaldo for one game over a gesture he made on the pitch last weekend that was judged a "provocation."

The Disciplinary and Ethics Committee of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) committee announced the ban on social media on Thursday.

The former Real Madrid and Manchester United star will also have to pay a fine of 20,000 Saudi Riyals ( $5,333) to Al Shabab, to cover the costs of the club filing the complaint, and half of that amount to the federation. The committee said that the decision was not open to appeal.

While the incident was not captured by television cameras, the actions of Ronaldo, who scored a first-half penalty in the game, were widely criticised in Saudi Arabia by former players and commentators.

Video emerged after his side's 3-2 win against Al Shabab showing Ronaldo making a repeated thrusting gesture towards his groin in response to crowds taunting him by chanting the name of his longtime rival, Lionel Messi.

The content quickly went viral and surged to the top of Saudi social media trending topics.

Sports newspaper Al Riyadiya reported Ronaldo as saying he respected all football clubs and that the gesture expressed "strength and victory" — not offence — and was considered acceptable in Europe.

The 39-year-old, a five-time winner of the UEFA Champions League, was the first major star to move to the kingdom when he penned a deal with Al Nassr in January 2023.

Saudi Pro League teams have gone on a spending spree to lure big-name players, and the country is set to host the 2034 World Cup as part of a broader move into global sport.

It is not the first time that the Portuguese forward has been at the center of controversy since joining Al Nassr.

Last April, upon leaving the field after a game against Al Hilal, Ronaldo appeared to grab his genitals as fans chanted Messi’s name. On that occasion, Al Nassr said that the forward had sustained a groin injury in the match.


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