Ronaldo faces prison in Saudi Arabia: the footballer crossed himself after scoring for Al-Nasr

The Por­tuguese for­ward vio­lat­ed the laws of a coun­try where any man­i­fes­ta­tions of oth­er reli­gions are not approved.

Cris­tiano Ronal­do scored the only goal in Al Nas­r’s game against Al Shorta in the semi-finals of the Arab Cham­pi­ons Cup. The Por­tuguese for­ward scored a penal­ty in the 75th minute.

38-year-old Ronal­do scored a goal in the fourth game in a row. He pre­vi­ous­ly scored against Raja, Zamalek and Mona­s­tir. Al-Nasr reached the final of the tour­na­ment, but many remem­ber the match as some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent.

What scandal did Ronaldo get into?

Imme­di­ate­ly after the win­ning goal, Ronal­do ran to the stands and crossed him­self. It is known that Ronal­do grew up in a Catholic fam­i­ly and this is not the first time he has been bap­tized in front of cam­eras. But in Sau­di Ara­bia, the pub­lic demon­stra­tion of some­one else’s faith is pro­hib­it­ed. Doing so may result in arrest, depor­ta­tion, or finan­cial penal­ties.

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The offi­cial reli­gion in Sau­di Ara­bia is Sun­ni Islam. The coun­try has a reli­gious mut­tawa police force. Sol­diers of the Sharia Guard con­stant­ly patrol the streets and pub­lic insti­tu­tions in order to sup­press attempts to vio­late the canons of Islam. If a vio­la­tion is dis­cov­ered, the per­pe­tra­tor bears the appro­pri­ate pun­ish­ment (from a fine to behead­ing).

How will Ronaldo be punished?

Pub­lic dis­plays of non-Mus­lim faith led to numer­ous arrests and tri­als. For exam­ple, 10 years ago, Colom­bian Al-Nasr play­er Juan Pablo Pino was arrest­ed in a shop­ping cen­ter build­ing. The rea­son is unusu­al — his shirt did not cov­er the tat­too of Christ.

For­mer mid­field­er of the Russ­ian nation­al team and Al-Hilal Andrei Kanchel­skis told SE that noth­ing threat­ens Ronal­do.

“I don’t think Ronal­do will have any prob­lems. Do they go to mosques when they come to us? When I played in Sau­di Ara­bia, I was bap­tized and wore a cross. Every­thing was fine. Every­one has their own reli­gion, we must treat every­thing with under­stand­ing,” Kanchel­skis said.

Judg­ing by the media and social net­works, local fans did not attach much impor­tance to the inci­dent. It is no secret that Ronal­do was invit­ed to the cham­pi­onship in order to improve the image of the coun­try and gain the right to host the World Cup. There­fore, it is unlike­ly that the author­i­ties will show integri­ty.