Amnesty International has called on Cristiano Ronaldo to use his influence to address human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, where he has signed a multimillion dollar contract with club Al Nassr until 2025.
The organization has accused Ronaldo of being part of a “sportswashing” campaign, in which the country invests in sporting events as a way to improve its image and distract from human rights abuses.
These abuses include the imprisonment of women’s rights campaigners, despite some reforms such as the end of the ban on women driving. There have also been allegations that the crown prince ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, which he denies.
“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,” Dana Ahmed, Amnesty’s Middle East researcher, said.
“Saudi Arabia regularly executes people for crimes including murder, rape and drug smuggling. On a single day last year, 81 people were put to death, many of whom were tried in grossly unfair trials.
“The authorities are also continuing their crackdown on freedom of expression and association, with heavy prison sentences handed down to human rights defenders, women’s rights activists and other political activists.
“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 of human rights issues in the country.”