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Ronaldo, Pogba Suspended, Banned From Football



Saudi Arabia’s football governing body on Thursday suspended Cristiano Ronaldo for one game over a gesture he made on the pitch last weekend that was judged a “provocation”.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation said the Al-Nassr captain and former Porto star was also fined a total of 30,000 riyals ($8,000) for the move, which broke rules against provoking the public during a match.

The decision cannot be appealed.

Video emerged after his side’s 3-2 win against Al-Shabab showing Ronaldo making a repeated thrusting gesture towards his groin in response to crowds taunting him by chanting the name of his longtime rival, Lionel Messi.

The content quickly went viral and surged to the top of Saudi social media trending topics.

Sports newspaper Al-Riyadiya reported Ronaldo as saying he respected all football clubs and that the gesture expressed “strength and victory” — not offence — and was considered acceptable in Europe.

The 39-year-old, a five-time winner of the UEFA Champions League, was the first major star to move to the kingdom when he penned a deal with Al-Nassr in January 2023.

Saudi Pro League teams have gone on a spending spree to lure big-name players, and the country is set to host the 2034 World Cup as part of a broader move into global sport.

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France’s Karim Benzema, Brazilian star Neymar and Senegalese striker Sadio Mane have also left Europe behind for bumper pay packets in the conservative kingdom.

But Riyadh has been accused by its critics of “sportswashing” by using athletics to improve its international reputation after widespread criticism of its human rights and environmental record.

In another development, Juventus player Paul Pogba has been banned from football for four years following a failed drug test, according to reports by Italian media.

In September, the ex-Manchester United player received a provisional suspension due to elevated testosterone levels found in his drug test.

Testosterone is a hormone that increases the endurance of athletes.

The 30-year-old was randomly tested after Juventus’ first match of the season on August 20, 2023.

According to BBC Sport, Pogba is expected to challenge Italy’s national anti-doping tribunal’s ruling.

Juventus informed the BBC that they were notified by the anti-doping tribunal on Thursday morning.

This decision implies that Pogba will not be able to participate in any matches until 2027, when he reaches the age of 33.

The ban was backdated to the date of the failed test.

BBC reports that Pogba was found to have violated rules due to the presence of non-endogenous testosterone metabolites in the test, indicating an external source of the substances.

Juventus welcomed back Pogba, a former player of the club, with a four-year contract in July 2022 following his departure from Manchester United as a free agent.

During his time with the Italian giants from 2012–2016, he appeared in 178 matches and scored 34 goals.

The 2018 World Cup winner has faced ongoing injury issues since returning to Juventus, causing him to miss the recent World Cup in Qatar.

This season, Pogba has accumulated 51 minutes on the pitch as a substitute in matches against Bologna and Empoli.

During the previous season, he accumulated a total of 162 minutes across various competitions but did not score any goals.

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