After football star Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer from Manchester United to Saudi team, Al-Nasr, Amnesty International is now calling upon the sport legend to be the voice against human rights violations in the Kingdom.
After playing for great teams in Europe such as Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus, football star Cristiano Ronaldo, known mostly as CR7, is now in Saudi Arabia to play for Al-Nasr.
“I want to give a different vision of this country and football. This is why I took this opportunity,” Ronaldo said in his first interview in the Kingdom. “I know the league is very competitive. People don’t know that, but I know because I saw many games,” he also added.
The 37-year-old Ronaldo has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract to play in the Saudi Pro League and will reportedly earn up to $200 million a year, making him the most well-paid and the richest football player in the world.
Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Or awards for the best player in the world and five Champions League titles. Now, however, he is decisive to finish his professional career as a striker in Asia. “Nobody knows this, but I had many opportunities in Europe, Brazil, Australia, the U.S., even Portugal, many clubs tried to sign me. I gave my word to this club,” Ronaldo said, adding that “I want to give a different vision of this country and football. This is why I took this opportunity.”
Ronaldo should not forget human rights violations in Saudi Arabia
But aside from the hopes and joys that Ronaldo has brought to Saudi Arabia, and also notwithstanding he described the Kingdom as “amazing country”, he is also expected to be the voice of those inside the Kingdom who suffer from human rights violations.
For this reason, it was on this Wednesday that Amnesty International called on the former Manchester United player to use his fame to speak up about Saudi Arabia’s “appalling” human rights record.
Rebuking Saudi Arabia for its dark human rights background, Amnesty’s Middle East researcher Dana Ahmed said: “Al-Nasr’s signing of Cristiano Ronaldo fits into a wider pattern of sports washing in Saudi Arabia. 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.”
Also criticizing Ronaldo for calling Saudi Arabia an amazing country, Dana Ahmed also noted that “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. Saudi Arabia regularly executes people for crimes including murder, rape and drug smuggling.”
Saudi Arabia is not ‘amazing’ when it comes to respecting human rights
Despite the way Ronaldo described the Kingdom, which drew criticism even by Amnesty International, it is good to mention that Saudi Arabia is still one of the worst countries I regard to violations and disregards for human rights.
That’s why many countries had taken a step back in their public relationship with the Kingdom, especially its young Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, whose names is tied to the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In one of the latest jaw-dropping disregards for human rights in the Kingdom, it was in March last year that Saudi Arabia, under the direct order of Bin Salman, carried out the largest mass execution in the country’s history, by behedging 81 people, mostly critics of thew young Crown Prince.