Ronaldo urged to call out Saudi Arabia's 'human rights issues'

Cristiano Ronaldo is urged to use his platform to call out Saudi Arabia’s ‘myriad of human rights issues’ by Amnesty International after signing £175m-a-year deal with Al-Nassr – as they warn him not to ‘become a tool of their sportswashing’

  • Cristiano Ronaldo was unveiled as an Al-Nassr player to much fanfare this week 
  • Amnesty International have urged Ronaldo to highlight human rights issues 
  • They called on him to use his platform to discuss Saudi Arabia’s poor record 
  • At his unveiling, Ronaldo said he would use his position to develop the country 

Amnesty International have urged Cristiano Ronaldo discuss human rights issues in Saudi Arabia after his eye-watering move to Al-Nassr.

The 37-year-old joined the Saudi club last month after his acrimonious exit from Manchester United and will reportedly earn £175m a year.

And the human rights group encouraged Ronaldo to use his position to highlight important issues and call out Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record. 

Amnesty International urged Cristiano Ronaldo discuss human rights issues in Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia has been accused of using sportswashing after several high-profile sporting events have been held in the country such as heavyweight boxing bouts, a Formula One Grand Prix while they have funded the controversial LIV Golf Breakaway League.

Newcastle United are also owned by a Saudi-backed group. 

And Amnesty International argued Ronaldo’s signing fitted into this wider pattern of sportswashing in the kingdom.

In a statement, Amnesty International’s Middle East researcher Dana Ahmed said: ‘It is highly likely that the Saudi authorities will promote Ronaldo’s presence in the country as a means of distracting from the country’s appalling human rights record.

‘Instead of offering uncritical praise of Saudi Arabia, Ronaldo should use his considerable public platform to draw attention to human rights issues in the country.

Ronaldo was unveiled as an Al-Nassr player this week and the human rights group encouraged the 37-year-old to use his platform to highlight the kingdom’s poor human rights record

‘Saudi Arabia regularly executes people for crimes including murder, rape and drug smuggling.

‘The authorities are also continuing their crackdown on freedom of expression and association, with heavy prison sentences handed down to human rights defenders, women’s rights activists and other political activists.

‘Cristiano Ronaldo shouldn’t allow his fame and celebrity status to become a tool of Saudi sportswashing – he should use his time at Al-Nassr to speak out about the myriad of human rights issues in the country.’

Ronaldo was officially unveiled as an Al-Nassr player on Tuesday following the agreement of a £175million-a-year contract. 

Ronaldo was introduced as ‘the world’s greatest footballer’ in front of 25,000 raucous supporters at Mrsool Park in Riyadh, to a backdrop of fireworks, flares and strobe lighting.

And, at his unveiling, he had spoken about promoting his new country of residence. 

He had said: ‘This contract is unique but I’m a unique player, so for me it’s normal.

‘I gave my word to this club to develop not only the football but other parts of this amazing country.’

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