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Iranians Welcome Ronaldo In Style Despite Restrictions



Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo and his Al Nassr teammates received a warm welcome from Iranian football fans as they arrived in Tehran for a tie against Iranian club, Persepolis. 

The game marks the first home-and-away club fixture between Iran and Saudi Arabia since the two nations resumed diplomatic relations earlier this year.

Fans chanted Ronaldo’s name as he arrived at Iran’s Imam Khomeini Airport along with his teammates. The excitement was profound as large crowds of cheering fans lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the Portuguese football legend.

News About Nigeria reports that many of the fans also flooded the hotel lobby where the team was staying, chanting “Ronaldo, Ronaldo!”

Posters of Ronaldo with the word “Welcome” written in Arabic, English, and Farsi adorned the main streets of the Iranian capital. The anticipation for the match was high among the Iranian football supporters.

According to reports, Navid Borhanifar, a 28-year-old Ronaldo fan, expressed his excitement, saying, “I think it will be a beautiful game and will have a lot of excitement. It’s very exciting for me.”

However, despite the excitement, fans will not be allowed to attend the match, which will take place at the massive Azadi Stadium, capable of hosting up to 90,000 spectators.

The Asian Football Confederation has decided to hold the game behind closed doors as a punishment for a controversial online post by Persepolis in 2021.

Ronaldo and his teammates are said to have been placed under the protection of an elite security unit specialized in securing presidential visits, which will prevent contact between fans and the Saudi team.

In addition to the football match, Ronaldo’s arrival has sparked a debate over Iran’s internet restrictions.

The country has imposed strict internet curbs since last year’s mass protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s dress code for women.

Persepolis’s general manager, Reza Darvish, proposed providing the Saudi team with SIM cards offering unfiltered internet access, stressing the challenges posed by Iran’s internet restrictions.

Meanwhile, the 2023/2024 Asian Champions League officially kicks off this week, drawing attention to Saudi Arabia, which has attracted numerous stars, including Karim Benzema, Neymar, Sadio Mane and Kante.