Despite the fervent supposed desire from politicians to keep themselves out of sport, their tendency to get involved remains strong. The latest to do so is Recep Tayyib Erdogan of Turkey, who has stated that he believes Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent woes are due to political persecution.
The 37-year-old striker is currently a free agent after Manchester United and the player agreed to terminate his contract, following an explosive interview in opposition to the club.
At the World Cup, he was then dropped by Fernando Santos to great effect, with his replacement Goncalo Ramos scoring a hat-trick. However in the following round Portugal were knocked out by Morocco, with Ronaldo’s late entry providing just a single chance which he could not convert.
Speaking on Turkish television, Erdogan claimed that his benching was due to his support of Palestine, as per Diario AS.
“Unfortunately, they imposed a political veto on him. He is someone who defends the Palestinian cause.”
“Sending a footballer like Ronaldo onto the field when there were only 30 minutes to go in the game ruined his psychology and took away his energy.”
It certainly would be a remarkable story if there were any truth to it. Erdogan is not quite clear on who they are, although presumably it would have to be the Portuguese FA or Santos himself.
Other players who have shown support for Palestine in the past, without seemingly receiving the same punishment. Paul Pogba won the World Cup in the past and won the World Cup in 2018, while in 2014, Lionel Messi criticised the suffering of children in the Gaza strip.