Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo was a victim of "a political ban" at the Qatar World Cup as a result of his support for the Palestinian cause, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
"They have wasted Ronaldo. Unfortunately, they have imposed a political ban on him," Erdogan told youth in an event in Turkey's eastern city of Erzurum.
"Sending a footballer like Ronaldo to the pitch with just 30 minutes remaining to the match ruined his psychology and took away his energy," he added.
"Ronaldo is someone who stands for the Palestinian cause," he added.
The 37-year-old came on as a substitute in the second half of a World Cup quarterfinal game against Morocco in which Portugal lost 1-0.
The Turkish leader said Ronaldo will be moving to Saudi Arabia "after receiving a new offer."
Ronaldo's contract with the United Kingdom's Manchester United was terminated and he is reported to be moving to Saudi Arabia after receiving a two-and-a-half season offer from Al-Nassr club.
Ronaldo has never made any public statements about Palestine though he did meet with Ahmed Dawabsheh, the sole survivor of an arson attack by a far-right Israeli settler against a Palestinian family home in the occupied West Bank. Dawabsheh suffered severe burns as a result of the attack and has been left with scarring across his body.
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