Ronaldo ‘has no clause’ in contract to back Saudi World Cup bid

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Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo poses for a photo with the jersey after signing with Al Nassr in Riyadh on December 30 [File: Al Nassr FC Handout via Anadolu Agency]

Al Nassr, football star’s new team, denies reports that Ronaldo will serve as an ambassador for Riyadh’s 2030 football World Cup bid.

Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr is denying reports that Cristiano Ronaldo has a clause in his contract in which the Portuguese forward is to serve as an ambassador for the Gulf country’s 2030 World Cup bid.

Ronaldo moved to Al Nassr last month after signing a 2.5-year contract estimated by the media to be worth more than 200 million euros ($210m).

Media reports suggested Ronaldo, 37, would be paid another 200 million euros to support Saudi Arabia’s World Cup bid.

“Al Nassr FC would like to clarify that contrary to news reports, Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract with Al Nassr does not entail commitments to any World Cup bids,” the club said in a statement in the early hours of Wednesday.

“His main focus is on Al Nassr and to work with his teammates to help the club achieve success.”

Ronaldo arrived in Saudi Arabia in early January just weeks after the World Cup in neighbouring Qatar, and as Saudi Arabia considers a joint Asia-Africa-Europe bid to host football’s biggest tournament with Egypt and Greece.

The window to submit bids to host the 2030 World Cup was opened last year and the winner will be selected at the FIFA Congress in 2024.

The 2026 edition of the World Cup will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, marking the first time the tournament will be shared by three different countries.

Saudi push into sports

Ronaldo is the highest-profile player to come to Saudi Arabia, the Gulf or any country in the Asian confederation.

Al Nassr, the nine-time Saudi league champions, represent a significant drop in standards for the Portuguese forward, who spearheaded title-laden campaigns with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus.

Ronaldo’s signing came against the backdrop of a Saudi push into sport, including golf, boxing, tennis and F1 as well as football, following the Saudi takeover of English Premier League club Newcastle United last year.

Saudi Arabia, led by de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will host upcoming editions of the Asian Games and Asian Winter Games, as well as football’s men’s and women’s Asian Cups.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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