Ronaldo suspended for provocative reaction toward fans

By Hoang An   February 28, 2024 | 11:14 pm PT
The Saudi Pro League has suspended Al Nassr's Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo for one match, following an inappropriate behavior directed towards Al-Shabab fans.

The league announced Ronaldo's suspension on Wednesday night and also fined him $2,700.

On Feb. 25, Ronaldo sparked controversy with a provocative gesture after Al Nassr's 3-2 victory over Al Shabab in Saudi Pro League.

After hearing the crowd chanting of "Lionel Messi" from the stands, Ronaldo turned towards them, placed his hand in front of his hips and flicked it forward repeatedly.

A screenshot of Al Nassr captain Ronaldo giving out a gesture in response to the Al-Shabab fans in Saudi Pro League on Feb. 25, 2024

Screenshots of Al Nassr captain Ronaldo giving out gestures in response to the Al-Shabab fans in Saudi Pro League on Feb. 25, 2024.

Initially, Arab media speculated that the Al Nassr captain would be banned for two matches. However, his penalty was lighter than expected.

Al Nassr will also have to pay around $5,400 to Al Shabab of complaint fee. Neither Ronaldo nor Al Nassr has the right to appeal this decision, meaning he will definitely miss the match against Al Hazm in round 22 of the Saudi Pro League on Thursday night.

Al Jazeera reported that Ronaldo was summoned to the disciplinary committee of Saudi Pro League on Wednesday to explain his actions.

He stated that his gesture was a way to "show strength and victory."

"I respect all teams, with no intention to offend anyone," the striker added. "We are used to expressing our emotions like this in Europe."

Former Saudi Arabian national team goalkeeper Mohamed Al-Deayea condemned Ronaldo's behavior as "immoral and utterly unacceptable for a player considered a role model."

Former Al-Shabab Executive Director Talal Al Sheikh said this is the third time Ronaldo had made a similar gesture.

This is the first time Ronaldo has been suspended in Saudi Arabia.

The last time the 39-year-old striker received a suspension was in September 2023, after receiving three yellow cards in the 2024 Euro qualifiers.

Manchester United also suspended him for one match in October 2022 after he refused to play and left early in a match against Tottenham Hotspur.

The longest suspension Ronaldo has ever received in his career was a five-match ban for pushing a referee during the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup in August 2017.

Ronaldo is not the first Al Nassr player to be suspended in the Saudi Pro League this season. In October 2023, defender Sultan Al-Ghannam was also banned for four matches after using offensive language towards a linesman in the match against Abha.

A month later, striker Anderson Talisca was suspended for two matches for offensive behavior.

In January 2024, goalkeeper Nawaf Al-Aqidi was banned for five months, while striker Mohammed Maran was forced to take a one-month break for refusing to join the national team for the 2023 Asian Cup.

Ronaldo currently leads Saudi Pro League in stats this season, with 22 goals and nine assists. Al Nassr are in second place, trailing the league leaders Al Hilal by seven points.

Cristiano Ronaldo makes a gesture deemed provocative in response to the audience after the game between Al-Shabab and Al Nassr in the Saudi Pro League, Feb. 25, 2024.

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