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Cristiano Ronaldo suspended for one match and fined for ‘provoking’ fans with gesture

<i>Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Ronaldo made the gesture in response to opposing fans chanting Lionel Messi's name.
Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Ronaldo made the gesture in response to opposing fans chanting Lionel Messi's name.

By Abbas Al Lawati, Sammy Mncwabe, George Ramsay and Sam Joseph, CNN

(CNN) — Portuguese and Al-Nassr star Cristiano Ronaldo has been banned for one match and fined for “provoking” fans in a Saudi Pro League match on Sunday.

The incident occurred in the aftermath of Al Nassr’s 3-2 win against Riyadh-based rival Al-Shabab.

In footage from the game, Ronaldo can be seen cupping his hand to his ear, taking in the chanting from the opposing Al-Shabab fans. He then made a thrusting gesture with his hand towards his groin in the direction of spectators in the stands, as opposition fans can be heard chanting long-time rival Lionel Messi’s name.

On Wednesday, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) said the 39-year-old forward violated Article 57-1 of the Discipline and Ethics Regulations.

As a result, Ronaldo has been suspended for one match, ordered to pay around $2,666 (10,000 riyals) to the SAFF and an additional $5,333 (20,000 riyals) to Al-Shabab for complaint filing fees.

The decision cannot be appealed, the SAFF added.

CNN has reached out to Ronaldo’s representative and Al-Nassr for comment.

Prior to the official announcement, there had been speculation over whether the SAFF would take action against its biggest star.

Ronaldo, a five-time Balon d’Or winner, joined Al-Nassr following an acrimonious exit from English Premier League side Manchester United in late 2022. He scored 14 goals in 16 league appearances last year and is the top scorer in the league for the current campaign with 22 goals in 20 appearances.

The former Real Madrid and Juventus star became the most high-profile name to head to the Saudi Pro League in January 2023, which saw an influx of European talent later that summer.

“The [SAFF] disciplinary committee, you are facing the biggest test,” prominent Saudi journalist Waleed Al-Farraj wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, before Ronaldo’s ban was announced. “We wait and see. Everything has its limits, no matter how big a star you are. This is how the major leagues are.”

Ronaldo opened the scoring from the penalty spot for Al-Nassr in Sunday’s thriller, before Yannick Carrasco’s leveled things up at 1-1 with a spot-kick of his own right before half-time following Aymeric Laporte’s challenge inside the box.

Al-Nassr regained the lead a minute into the second half through Anderson Talisca, but Al-Shabab equalized once again, this time with Carlos Júnior’s goal from close range to make it 2-2.

It was Ronaldo’s side that would have the final say though as Talisca secured his brace deep into the match to wrap up a 3-2 victory.

Ronaldo will miss Al-Nassr’s game against Al-Hazm on Thursday in line with his suspension.

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