Cristiano Ronaldo’s fans had to wait to see if he would comply with his ban after a boy slapped the phone from his hand after Al Nassr’s match against Al Ta’ee was postponed.
Ronaldo’s new club announced that Thursday’s Saudi Pro League match was postponed for 24 hours “due to heavy rain and weather conditions affecting the stadium’s electricity”. They did so after doubts arose over whether Ronaldo would comply with the two-game suspension handed down by the Football Association the day after he left Manchester United.
Failure to do so could result in both Ronaldo and Al Nassr being penalized by Fifa.
If Ronaldo decides to serve his sentence, his debut in Saudi Arabia could come against Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain on January 19, when a Saudi All-Star 11 will face Ligue 1 champions in the Riyadh Season Cup.
Al Nassr had sold the entire 28,000 seats for Thursday’s Saudi Pro League match against Al Ta’ee in anticipation of Ronaldo’s salute to the club following this week’s flashy opening in Riyadh.
It is not yet clear whether Ronaldo will play on Friday due to a suspension he received in the days after he left United as a free agent in November after a heated interview with Piers Morgan.
Al Nassr made Ronaldo the highest-paid player in history at £165m a year, but he was banned against Portuguese striker Al Ta’ee and could have to sit in the match at Al Shabab on Saturday week if he gets his sentence. for an event that occurred nine months ago.
Ronaldo was banned from two matches by the Football Association independent disciplinary commission for slapping a phone from a young Everton fan’s hand at Goodison Park in April.
All in all, Ronaldo’s first run in Saudi Arabia means he could face off against his long-time rival Messi, who inspired Argentina for a World Cup victory in Qatar last month, bolstering its claim to be the best football of all time.
If Ronaldo doesn’t play against PSG, he’ll probably make his debut two days later against Al Ittifaq at Al-Nassr’s Mrsool Park.
It is thought that Ronaldo was not registered in time for last Saturday’s match against Al-Nassr’s Al-Khaleej, meaning the first of his two-game ban will not take effect until Thursday’s Al Ta’ee match.
Under Article 12.1 of the FIFA regulations, Ronaldo’s suspension was transferred to his new club and new federation after this move.
Ronaldo was accused of “behaving badly” by the three-man FA commission for dropping the 14-year-old’s cell phone while making his way to the tunnel in Goodison. His behavior was described as “both inappropriate” and “violent”, causing damage to the cell phone and “redness” of the boy’s hand, and the commission dismissed allegations that the actor had reacted out of concern for his own safety.
Ronaldo was warned by the police about this after he had previously pleaded guilty to assault and criminal damage, and was ordered to pay the youth £200 in compensation.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International urged Ronaldo to use its “remarkable public platform” to draw attention to Saudi’s “appalling human rights record” following his move to Al Nassr.
“Al-Nassr’s signing of Cristiano Ronaldo fits the broader model of sports bathing in Saudi Arabia,” said Dana Ahmed, Amnesty International Middle East Researcher.
“It is highly probable that the Saudi authorities encouraged Ronaldo’s presence in the country to distract attention from the country’s appalling human rights record.
“Ronaldo should use the considerable public platform to raise awareness of human rights issues in the country rather than uncritically praising Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia regularly executes people for crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking. Last year, 81 people were executed in a single day, and these many of them were tried in extremely unfair trials.
“The authorities also continue to crack down on freedom of expression and association, with heavy prison sentences handed out to human rights defenders, women’s rights activists and other political activists.
“Cristiano Ronaldo should not let his fame and celebrity status become the Saudi sports wash – he should use his time at Al-Nassr to talk about the myriad human rights issues in the country.”