Amnesty International has asked soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo on January 4, 2023, to bring attention to human rights violations in Saudi Arabia while he was playing for Al Nassr.
Dana Ahmed, the organization’s Middle East researcher, is quoted in a press release as saying,
“Al-Nassr’s signing of Cristiano Ronaldo fits into a wider pattern of sportswashing in Saudi Arabia”
The practice of boosting one’s reputation through sports is known as “sportswashing.”
Ahmed concluded by stating,
“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,” added Ahmed.
“Cristiano Ronaldo should not allow his fame and celebrity status to become a tool of Saudi’s sportswashing. He should use his time at Al-Nassr to speak out about the myriad human rights issues in the country.”
The release argues that the Saudi government denies freedom of speech and association and executes people without a fair trial.
Saudi state-owned media claims that Ronaldo’s employment with Al Nassr will bring in an annual salary of $200 million.
Amnesty International issued the statement in response to the Portuguese star’s remarks at his Monday unveiling for the Riyadh-based team, in which he stated,
“I want to give a different vision of this club and country. This is why I took this opportunity.”