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Ronaldo banned, fined by Saudi FA for obscene gesture to rival fans 

February 29, 2024 at 12:15 pm

Cristiano Ronaldo of Al Nassr celebrates after scoring the first goal during the Saudi Pro League match between Al-Nassr and Al Fateh at Al Awwal Park Stadium on 17 February, 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images]

Cristiano Ronaldo has been handed a one-match suspension by the Disciplinary and Ethics Committee of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) after making an obscene gesture at Al-Shabab fans. The incident took place on Sunday, after Ronaldo’s side Al-Nassr beat Al-Shabab 3-2 in a Saudi Pro League fixture.

The Saudi football governing body made the decision after video footage showed the 39-year-old cupping his hear in the fans’ direction before repeatedly thrusting his hand forward near his pelvis. In footage circulated online, the fans can be heard chanting “Messi” – the former Real Madrid star’s World Cup winning rival.

The ban means Ronaldo will miss Al-Nassr’s next league game at home against Al-Hazem this evening.

As part of its disciplinary action, SAFF also fined the Portuguese star 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,666), and an additional 20,000 riyals to Al-Shabab to cover the costs of filing the complaint. Although the incident didn’t appear in the live broadcast, it was brought to SAFF’s attention after footage circulated on social media from a mobile phone recording.

A spokesman said the ban and fine was handed to Ronaldo for “‘provoking fans’ or ‘inciting fans’ as per article 57 of the disciplinary and ethics committee at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation.”

However, Ronaldo denied making any “disgraceful gesture” and reportedly provided the SAFF with a written statement saying: “I respect all clubs. The joy after the shot expresses strength and victory, and it is not shameful. We are used to it in Europe.”

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is accused of making a similar gesture last April, while leaving the pitch after a game against Al-Hilal as fans chanted Messi’s name. However, his club attributed it to the forward sustaining a groin injury in the match.

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