Explore the world of sports - from cricket to football - with a focus on exclusive interviews & analysis.

Amnesty International Mocked for Urging Ronaldo to Speak on Saudi Human Rights

© AP Photo / Luca BrunoPortugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Morocco and Portugal, at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022.
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Morocco and Portugal, at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. - Sputnik India, 1920, 05.01.2023
After playing in Europe for almost two decades, Cristiano Ronaldo will ply his trade in Asia, competing for Al-Nassr in the Saudi Professional League (SPL).
Human Rights watchdog Amnesty International is facing the wrath of netizens after the organization urged Cristiano Ronaldo to speak about human rights issues in Saudi Arabia following his switch to the kingdom earlier this week.
As per the reported terms of the deal, the Portugal superstar is expected to earn up to $200 million a year after signing a long-term contract with Al-Nassr.
During his unveiling in Riyadh on Tuesday, CR7 lauded Saudi Arabia and even went on to call the oil-rich nation an "amazing country".
However, Ronaldo's words of praise for Saudi Arabia weren't appreciated by Amnesty International as the non-profit lashed out at him, labeling his arrival in Riyadh a part of the monarchy's "wider pattern of sportswashing".
Sportswashing is a practice of individuals, corporations, or governments that use sports to improve their reputation and public image tarnished by wrongdoing.
"Al-Nassr's signing of Cristiano Ronaldo fits into a wider pattern of sportswashing 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. 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," a statement from Amnesty International read.
The organization's appeal to Ronaldo was met with social media criticism with some football fans claiming that it was trying to force the footballer into a political issue.
Meanwhile, others declared that Amnesty wasn't the last word on "moral issues" on the planet and should stay out of football matters.
"What Ronaldo and all people with right minds and conscience need to do is to tell Amnesty that you are not a god with the power to dictate moral values for the non-white people of the World, until you gain enough sense to listen and comply. And YOU WILL!" a Twitter user wrote.
"Amnesty wants to indict Ronaldo seeing that responsibility is political," another added.
"Amnesty trying to clout chase with Ronaldo. Amnesty laying foundations for another proxy war in Saudi," third argued.
"Why Ronaldo. Amnesty should ask athletes in the US to talk about police brutality here too. Policemen and policewomen are killing blacks for no reason everyday," a fourth countered.
Amnesty International's attempts to involve the former Real Madrid attacker in Saudi Arabia's human rights record come in the backdrop of rising concerns over the issue, particularly after the killing of Washington Post's journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Despite West's concerns over its human rights record, the kingdom's profile as a major destination for sports has grown manifold in the last 18 months or so.
The Middle East country created a rebel golf league, hosted a maiden Formula 1 race, and organized boxing bouts featuring some of the biggest names from the sport and has now brought Ronaldo to Riyadh to boost their chances of co-hosting the 2030 FIFA World Cup.