Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said there is a “political ban” on the World Cup in Qatar over Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo’s alleged support for the Palestinians.
“Ronaldo has been wasted. Unfortunately, they have imposed a political ban on him,” Erdogan said while addressing a group of students on Sunday, according to comments translated by Al Jazeera.
“Sending a footballer like Ronaldo onto the pitch with 30 minutes left in the match ruined his psychology and took away his energy,” Erdogan added, explaining that “Ronaldo is someone who stands up for the Palestinian cause.”
Ronaldo does not appear to have made any significant public statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, although some documented images, videos and statements of him have been widely circulated in the past. The footballer has met and photographed Israelis and Palestinians over the years.
Ronaldo is widely considered to have had a poor performance at the World Cup. He tried – and failed – to score a headed goal against Uruguay – showed a poor attitude after being substituted against South Korea, much to the annoyance of his coach, and was then benched against Switzerland and Morocco in the knockout stages. He cried after Portugal’s 1-0 loss to Morocco, which ended his World Cup career, and finished the tournament with just one goal.
However, there is no apparent basis for Erdogan’s claims that Ronaldo’s performance was in any way related to politics, nor any alleged stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Support for the Palestinian cause and waving of Palestinian flags was a common occurrence at the World Cup in Qatar – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas thanked Doha for using the tournament to spread support for the Palestinians.
There is no reason to think that the Portugal national team – certainly its star player – will make any decisions based on politics rather than consideration of the game.
Ronaldo, one of the most famous soccer players in the world, Visited Israel In 2013 for the World Cup qualifiers. In 2019, he met Then-Foreign Minister Israel Katz presented him with a shirt in Italy.
In 2016, Ronaldo and fellow members of Real Madrid met Ahmed Tawabshah, a Palestinian boy who survived a bomb attack by Jewish extremists that killed his parents and baby brother.
The same year, Ronaldo Acted In a series of commercials for the Israeli Hot TV network, it caused a backlash from some of his fans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.