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    Thursday, February 29, 2024

    Cristiano Ronaldo Suspended for One Match for Making Alleged Offensive Gesture

    FILE - Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr Cristiano Ronaldo reacts in a match with Iran's Persepolis during their AFC Champions League soccer match at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. Cristiano Ronaldo has come under heavy criticism after seemingly making an offensive gesture following Al Nassr’s 3-2 victory over Al Shabab in a Saudi Pro League match on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi), File)

    Cristiano Ronaldo has been suspended for one match for making an alleged offensive gesture during a Saudi Arabia league game while playing for Al Nassr in the Saudi Pro League.

    After Al-Nassr defeated Riyadh rival Al-Shabab 3-2 on Sunday, video footage appeared to show Ronaldo cupping his ear and repeatedly thrusting his hand forward near his pelvis, in a gesture that seemed to be aimed at Al-Shabab fans.

    Background chants of “Messi,” referencing Ronaldo’s longstanding soccer rival Lionel Messi, could be heard.

    The Disciplinary and Ethics Committee of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) committee announced the ban on social media early Thursday morning local time. Al-Nassr’s next league game is at home to Al-Hazm on Thursday.

    The former Real Madrid and Manchester United star will also have to pay a fine of 20,000 Saudi Riyals ( $5,333) to Al-Shabab, to cover the costs of the club filing the complaint, and half of that amount to the federation.

    The committee said that the decision was not open to appeal.

    While the incident was not captured by television cameras, the actions of Ronaldo, who scored a first-half penalty in the game, were widely criticized in Saudi Arabia by former players and commentators.

    According to reports in the Saudi Arabia media, the 39-year-old told the committee that the gesture was one of victory and common in Europe.

    It is not the first time that the Portuguese forward has been at the center of controversy since joining Al-Nassr. Last April, upon leaving the field after a game against Al-Hilal, Ronaldo appeared to grab his genitals as fans chanted Messi’s name. On that occasion, Al-Nassr said that the forward had sustained a groin injury in the match.

    Ronaldo, who moved to the Riyadh-based club in December 2022, has a league-leading 22 goals. His scored the opener against Al Shabab, a first-half penalty.

    Al Nassr is also in the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League, a tournament it has never won. -AP

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