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Cristiano Ronaldo disappoints as Saudi Al Nassr loses King Cup

Ronaldo is the biggest player to ever play in Saudi Arabia, but his tenure in the kingdom has been disappointing to some fans.
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr Football Club lost in the King Cup of Champions on Monday night, adding to star forward Cristiano Ronaldo’s woes since moving to the kingdom.

Al Nassr was defeated 1-0 by Al Wehda. The loss was especially devastating to Al Nassr because Al Wehda had one less player for the last 40 minutes due to a second yellow card.

The King Cup is an annual soccer tournament in Saudi Arabia. Ronaldo joined Al Nassr in December, in a deal reportedly worth more than $200 million.

Why it matters: Ronaldo's signing with Al Nassr made him the biggest player by far to join the Saudi Pro League. There was considerable excitement in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East soccer scene following the move.

However, Ronaldo’s tenure in Saudi Arabia has been marked by disappointment so far. The team, which is currently in second place in the Saudi Pro League, had expected to win trophies with Ronaldo, but Al Nassr lost in the the semifinals of the Saudi Super Cup in January and is now out of the King Cup as well.

Many fans roasted Ronaldo on social media following the loss, pointing out that his time with Juventus and Manchester United also ended disappointingly.

Others went so far as to say Al Nassr made a mistake in signing him.

Earlier this month, Al Nassr fired head coach Rudi Garcia following a 0-0 draw to Al Feiha. Ronaldo appeared visibly angry after the match.

Garcia had only been head coach since June of last year. There is considerable precedent for Ronaldo’s coaches being sacked. A whopping four of the Portuguese superstar’s coaches were fired during his stints at Juventus and Manchester United between 2018 and 2022. Several coaches were also sacked by Real Madrid when Ronaldo played for the iconic Spanish club.

There have been other controversies during Ronaldo’s short time in the kingdom. Last week, he grabbed his crotch in a gesture toward rival fans while exiting the stadium. Saudi legal scholar Nouf Bint Ahmed tweeted that Ronaldo was guilty of public indecency and threatened to report him to prosecutors. Her tweet was widely shared.

There was also controversy over whether Ronaldo could live with his unmarried partner in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom forbids unmarried couples from living together, but authorities do not always apply the law to foreigners.

Know more: Saudi Arabia is seeking to become a global player in sports. The Public Investment Fund-backed LIV Golf began its second season in February. The kingdom is also considering a bid to host the 2030 World Cup. Saudi sport revenue has grown steadily in recent years, Sam Wendel wrote in a memo for Al-Monitor PRO in December.

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