Whether you’re a fan of soccer or not, just about everybody on the planet has at least heard of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 38-year-old Portuguese soccer legend is one of the most recognizable faces in all of the sport, and will forever be one of the greats. However, even his stardom may not be enough to keep him from serious punishment in Iran.
According to the New York Post,there have been several lawsuits filed against Ronaldo for hugging and kissing Iranian artist Fatima Hamimi on the head to thank her for creating two paintings of him.
And the punishment?
99 lashes on charges of adultery in the form of touching a woman while in a relationship. Ronaldo has been with his model girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez since 2016, and they share two children, Alana Martina and Bella Esmeralda, along with twins born via surrogate in 2017. So because he is in a relationship, touching another woman is considered adultery, even just a hug, under Iranian law.
The incident went down when Ronaldo and his team, Al-Nassr, traveled to Tehran to play Persepolis for an Asian Champions League group stage match.
Hamimi is reportedly 85% paralyzed and paints with her feet, and created two paintings of Ronaldo.
Ronaldo reportedly could be forgiven by a judge if “the acts are not punishable or Ronaldo shows remorse.”
Of course, it will only happen if Ronaldo comes back to Iran, who now plays in the Saudi league, returns to Iran.
That being said, the Iranian embassy of Spain said there is no merit to the claim that he could be lashed:
“We strongly deny the issuance of any court ruling against any international athlete in Iran. It is a matter of concern that the publication of such unfounded news could overshadow crimes against humanity and war crimes against the oppressed Palestinian nation.
It should be noted that Cristiano Ronaldo traveled to Iran on September 18 and 19 to play in an official soccer match and was very well received by the people and the authorities.
His sincere and humane meeting with Fatemeh Hamami was also praised and admired by both the people and the country’s sports authorities.”
Desmentimos rotundamente la emisión de cualquier fallo judicial contra cualquier deportista internacional en Irán. Es motivo de preocupación que la publicación de noticias tan infundadas pueda eclipsar los crímenes de lesa humanidad y los crímenes de guerra contra la oprimida… pic.twitter.com/51xw40L7Gp
I have a feeling Ronaldo will be able to get out of this one relatively unscathed, but it’s still wild to think about one of the greatest soccer players to ever play the game getting whipped 99 times for a hug.
Hamami herself also shared a photo of them together on her personal Instagram with the caption (at least according to Google translate):
“Me and Cristiano Ronaldo and the dress he gave me. Signed and wrote for me for dear Fatima, the best artist! I am happy that one of my dreams came true and God did not disappoint me,
But I am not disappointed! I tried, struggled, hoped and waited … I went through a lot in my life. I heard a lot of hard words and sarcasm. Many people broke my heart, but I told myself that God is great, God knows that I talk to him from the bottom of my heart and I feel heartache …
Whatever I have, I have from God. God, you make what you make is more beautiful. When everyone suffers from despair, I put my hope in the God who is in the peak of despair. He fills my heart with hope light.”