Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world’s best known football players announced at the beginning of the year his move from Manchester United to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr team. During the unveiling ceremony, on 3 January, the player made a small gaffe, saying his move to South Africa is not the end of his career.
“The evolution of football is different. So for me, it is not the end of my career coming to South Africa. This is why I want to change and to be honest I really don’t worry about what people say. I took my decision and I have a responsibility to change that” Ronaldo said at the ceremony.
The South Africa tourism board did not miss the opportunity and took to Twitter to lightly mock Ronaldo’s mistake over the two countries’ names, saying that he is welcome to South Africa anytime.
The footballers mistake would have been less taxed online had it not fed speculations of his move being only for the money. With a reported salary of £177 million per year at Al-Nassr, Ronaldo became the world’s highest paid footballer.
I am so proud at making this big decision in my life and my career. My work in Europe is done.Cristiano Ronaldo
“I played for all the most important clubs. I had many opportunities in Europe. Many clubs in Brazil, Australia, in the US and even Portugal. For me this is a good chance with my knowledge and experience to grow very important clubs. I want to help many different points and the Al-Nassr’s woman’s team. I want to change the perspective of many people”, Ronaldo said at the ceremony in Saudi Arabia.
Before moving to Al-Nassr, his contract with Manchester United was mutually dissolved before its term after Ronaldo took issues with the team and its management during an interview Piers Morgan. And although he says that he moved to Saudi Arabia to use his experience and expertise to help grow not only his team, but the football scene in generally in the region, people still question his motives considering his former salary was only £26 million per year.
Additionally, he was criticised by Amnesty International for not using his platform to draw attention to human rights issues in the country, “instead of offering uncritical praise of Saudi Arabia”, warning him to not allow “his fame and celebrity status to become a tool of Saudi’s sportswashing”.