Is Cristiano Ronaldo set to face investigation in Saudi Arabia?

Cristiano Ronaldo could be in hot water in Saudi Arabia after an alleged obscene gesture in Al-Nassr's clash with Al-Shabab on Sunday (Credit: Imago/Power Sport Images)

Is Cristiano Ronaldo set to face investigation in Saudi Arabia?

Seye Omidiora 10:07 - 26.02.2024

Ronaldo's alleged obscene gesture during Al-Nassr’s Saudi Pro League game against Al-Shabab on Sunday could lead to punishment.

Cristiano Ronaldo caused a stir during a Saudi Pro League encounter between Al-Nassr and Al-Shabab on Sunday, leading to multiple outlets reporting that the Portugal international could be penalised. Ronaldo netted a 21st-minute penalty to put his side ahead, but it was Anderson Talisca's brace that proved pivotal for the Knights of Najd, with the attacker's 86th-minute goal deciding the match in Riyadh.

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The 3-2 win saw Al-Nassr cut Al-Hilal’s lead to four points, albeit with the latter set to travel to Al-Ettifaq on Monday to restore their seven-point advantage. However, Ronaldo scoring his 22nd league goal of the season was not the prevalent talking point on Sunday night.

What did Ronaldo allegedly do?

Following his alleged obscene gesture against Al-Shabab on Sunday, Ronaldo was flooded with criticism. Following the final whistle, videos on social media showed Ronaldo cupping his ear and then repeatedly pumping his hand forward in front of his pelvis, with Al-Shabab supporters seeming to be the target of the action.

"Messi” chants, a reference to Ronaldo’s long-time rival, could be heard in the background. While the incident was not captured during the game, some Saudi commentators suggested Ronaldo ought to face consequences. The national football federation (SAFF) has reportedly launched an investigation into the incident, but there has been no official response, according to the Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat.

“The disciplinary committee is facing the biggest test. We will wait and see,” said Waleed Al Farraj, a popular television host in Saudi. “Everything has its limits, no matter how famous you are. This is how the major leagues are.”

Has this happened to Ronaldo before?

Ronaldo, 39, has previously been the target of similar criticism. After a 2-0 league loss to Al-Hilal in April of last year, he seemed to touch his genitalia on the way to the dugout.  

Earlier this month, he threw away an Al-Hilal scarf thrown at him from the stands as he was heading towards the tunnel following Al-Nassr’s 2-0 loss in the Riyadh Season Cup final.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo has netted 22 league goals this season (Credit: Imago/Power Sport Images)

Ronaldo: What comes next?

Ronaldo should be heavily involved for Al-Nassr over the coming weeks before March’s international break. The second-placed side face Saudi Pro League fixtures against Al-Hazm, Al-Raed and Al-Ahli, as well as a quarter-finals double-header against Al-Ain in the AFC Champions League.