A Saudi lawyer has called for the arrest and deportation of Cristiano Ronaldo after the football icon grabbed his crotch in an apparent gesture of insult towards rival fans. Ronaldo’s teammates have insisted he was simply nursing an injury.
Footage posted to social media showed the 38-year-old striker tugging his crotch upwards as he walked off the pitch following Al-Nassr’s 2-0 loss to Al-Hilal in the Saudi Pro League on Tuesday. The gesture was seemingly directed at Al-Hilal fans who were chanting the name of Ronaldo’s long-time rival, Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo’s behavior “was a crime,” lawyer Nouf bint Ahmed claimed on Twitter.
“A publicly indecent act requires arrest and deportation if it is committed by a foreigner,” the lawyer and UN adviser argued, adding that she would submit a petition to the Saudi Public Prosecution Office.
It is unclear whether prosecutors will act on Ahmed’s petition. According to Spanish sporting newspaper Marca, staff at Al-Nassr said that Ronaldo made the gesture as he had “received a blow during the match.”
Some sections of the Saudi public were unconvinced, with sports journalist Ozman Abu Bakr demanding that the Saudi Arabian Football Federation terminate Ronaldo’s contract with Al-Nassr for such an “immoral” gesture, according to Marca.
Ronaldo signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Al-Nassr in December worth an estimated $75 million annually, or up to $200 million through other commercial agreements with the club. Ronaldo and Messi have been rivals since their days at Barcelona and Real Madrid, and faced off against each other in January at an exhibition game in Riyadh. The two may soon rekindle their rivalry in Saudi Arabia, as Al-Hilal reportedly offered Messi a $438 million contract earlier this month.