Cristiano Ronaldo will not be making his debut in front of a sold out Al Nassr crowd against Al Tai FC in the Saudi Pro League this Thursday, despite being unveiled as an Al Nassr signing earlier in the week.
The striker had been a free agent since his contract with Manchester United was terminated by mutual consent in the week before the World Cup, where his Portugal side were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Morocco.
And, despite his claims that the veteran forward has been subject to offers from clubs around the world, he left Europe to join Al Nassr on a two year deal worth almost £200m per year.
“In Europe, my work is done. I’ve won everything. I’ve played in the most important clubs in Europe. And now for me is a new challenge”, he told the media at his unveiling, before mixing up South Africa and Saudi Arabia by adding “for me it’s not the end of the World to come to South Africa”.
However, the striker will not be able to play for his new club just yet, with the Daily Mail reporting that he will miss the first two games of his Al Nassr career after picking up a ban while in England, which will apply even in the middle east.
The ban comes from an incident last season, where the Portugal forward smashed an Everton fan’s phone in frustration after a 1-0 defeat by the Toffees at Goodison Park, a season which ultimately resulted in Europa League football. And, though he has now left Manchester United, the repercussions still follow him.
Article 12.1 of FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players reads: “Any disciplinary sanction of up to four matches or up to three months that has been imposed on a player by the former association but not yet (entirely) served by the time of the transfer shall be enforced by the new association at which the player has been registered in order for the sanction to be served at domestic level.”
Meanwhile, the FA added that: “We note the Player has participated in a recently published interview in which he has criticised MUFC.
“We know not what effect that may nor will have on his future with that club nor whether it will take disciplinary action in respect thereof. The suspension we have imposed must have effect.
“In other words, it applies to MUFC’s first team competitive matches for which he is eligible for selection. Should he leave MUFC before it completes two first team competitive matches the balance of the suspension will apply to any new club he should join.”
It means that the World star will be forced to wait until the clash with Al-Shabab on January 14th for his potential debut in Saudi Arabia, much to the disappointment of the 28,000 ticket holders for the club’s next sold out game.