Ronaldo walks off as Al-Nassr loses 3-0 to Al-Hilal in Riyadh derby
Ronaldo's Al-Nassr lost 3-0 to Al-Hilal. Ronaldo's impact in Saudi soccer is huge. He's also facing a $1 billion lawsuit.
Riyadh was the site of a surprising turn of events, as Al-Hilal fans chanted "Messi! Messi!" as Cristiano Ronaldo left the field, following their Saudi Pro League team's 3-0 victory over Al-Nassr. Despite Al-Nassr's loss, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner remains the center of attention in Saudi Arabian soccer, even as opposition fans taunt him with references to his longtime rival.
As thousands of fans headed to the King Fahd International Stadium to watch the match, the anticipation was palpable. Even as Al-Nassr fans cheered Ronaldo during his warm-up, there were jeers from the home supporters. However, even amid the hostility, parents pointed out the 38-year-old soccer great to their children.
Ronaldo's arrival at Al-Nassr last December has had a significant impact on Saudi soccer, raising the level of the sport in the country. Despite Al-Hilal's status as the most successful club in Saudi Arabia and Asia, with numerous championships, fans acknowledge the impact Ronaldo has had on Al-Nassr.
In the previous 14 games of the league season, Ronaldo had scored 15 goals, helping Al-Nassr move into second place in the league. His teammates now include former Liverpool star Sadio Mane, Inter Milan's Marcelo Brozovic, and Manchester United's Alex Telles.
Ronaldo's influence goes beyond his performance on the field. Al-Nassr coach Luis Castro praised him as an example of rigor, ambition, and discipline, and credited him with raising the level of the entire team.
In the match against Al-Hilal, Ronaldo tried everything to help his team secure a win. Despite his efforts, Al-Nassr suffered a defeat, leaving them seven points behind Al-Hilal after 15 rounds. However, given Ronaldo's form this season, he may yet have the last laugh.
Ronaldo's day took a further turn when news broke of a class-action lawsuit seeking at least $1 billion in damages for his role in promoting cryptocurrency-related "non-fungible tokens," or NFTs, issued by the cryptocurrency exchange Binance.