Cristiano Ronaldo, what are you doing? (2024)

Stuart Broad had the right idea.

The legendary England cricketer ended his playing days by hitting a six off his final ball with the bat and taking a wicket from his final delivery with the ball to win a match. Against Australia, his country’s most historic rivals, no less.

But he is the exception, not the rule. Thousands of professional sportsmen and women retire every year in circ*mstances far less celebrated and completely out of their control. But there are some controllables, right? Like bowing out at the top? Growing old gracefully? Or even just retaining your dignity?


There is another way — let’s call it the Cristiano Ronaldo way.

This way involves moving to a retirement league for a humungous payday and playing with and against vastly inferior opponents in a league where 14 of the 18 clubs have an average attendance of fewer than 9,000.

OK, fine, who is realistically going to turn down a reported £173million-a-year salary and king-like status? But there is still a way of behaving in a sophisticated, cultured manner while pocketing said cash.

All of which begs the question: Cristiano Ronaldo, what are you doing?

Cristiano Ronaldo, what are you doing? (1)

Ronaldo’s temper is getting the better of him in Saudi (Waleed Zein/Anadolu via Getty Images)

During Al Nassr’s Saudi Super Cup semi-final against Al Hilal, Ronaldo aimed his elbow in the direction of Saudi Arabia international Ali Al-Bulayhi, not once, but twice. Al-Bulayhi has previous in the world of wind-up merchantry — or s***housery to you and me.


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He pulled Son Heung-min’s hair in the Asian Cup in January and squared up to Lionel Messi in the World Cup in Qatar. He has even gone at Ronaldo before, berating him after a league meeting in December and taunting him following Al Hilal’s victory.

He aims high does Al-Bulayhi, a 34-year-old centre-back formerly of Al Nahda and Al Fateh. He is basically the football equivalent of Scrappy-Doo trying to fight Skeletor and Shredder. Average players are not good enough for his tomfoolery: it is world superstars or no one.

Anyway, while Son and Messi rose above it, Ronaldo chose violence, elbowing Al-Bulayhi in the chest and then swinging his arm at him again, while the defender crumpled to the floor. Ronaldo was sent off, but he wasn’t finished, pulling back his arm and clenching his fist as if he was about to punch the referee in the back of the head (it may have been a fake movement, but it was enough for one of his team-mates to flinch).

Then, amid chants from the stands of “Messi, Messi”, Ronaldo enlisted sarcasm mode, applauding the referee and giving a thumbs up to the crowd.

Cristiano Ronaldo, what are you doing? (3)

Ronaldo leaves the pitch after being sent off (Neville Hopwood/Getty Images)

For added context, Al Nassr were 2-0 down at the time, with Al Hilal’s goals coming from Salem Aldawsari (who you may remember scored Saudi Arabia’s glorious winner against Argentina in the World Cup) and Malcom (who you may remember doing absolutely nothing at Barcelona).

Sadio Mane, no introduction needed, did pull a goal back for Ronaldo’s Al Nassr, but to no avail. They are out of the Saudi Super Cup.

This is not the first weird behaviour from Ronaldo out in Saudi, or the first act of violence against Al Hilal, as they pointed out on their social media accounts after the semi-final.

Al-Hilal are showing Cristiano Ronaldo little mercy after he was sent off in a 2-1 win against Al-Nassr.

The caption in this tiktok was 'The star of the ring in every setting'🥊

— Football España (@footballespana_) April 9, 2024

You may also remember — or may have chosen to erase from your memory — an incident in February, again against Al Hilal.

Ronaldo and Al Nassr lost this game, too, 2-0 in the Riyadh Season Cup.

Ronaldo had taken the defeat with his customary grace and, when a fan lobbed an Al Hilal shirt at him as he was walking down the tunnel, he picked it up and… well, in layman’s terms, rubbed it against his penis. Then chucked it back.


This is not an impetuous, naive, 18-year-old rapscallion who can be forgiven because of the recklessness of youth. This is a 39-year-old man, a father of five children, who has won almost every trophy that matters. What is he doing?

The stroppy, sulky, strutting peaco*ck act has been a major part of Ronaldo’s personality throughout his career — be it refusing to go on as a substitute for Manchester United, leaving the stadium after being substituted, slapping a child’s phone out of their hand, not celebrating goals scored by team-mates because they didn’t pass to him, throwing water at a cameraman, or screaming at a referee and shoving a fan who was trying to take a selfie.

GO DEEPERCristiano Ronaldo's fragile ego is rather sad for someone who has achieved so much

In fact, come to think of it, all these things have happened in the past three or four years. Instead of having some decorum as he heads to his forties, Ronaldo has regressed into toddler mode and an era of extreme, ill-tempered sulkiness.

When his team loses, when a referee sends him off, when a team-mate doesn’t pass to him, when the manager substitutes him, when the crowd sing Messi’s name, he has a strop.

Maybe it’s just a phase? He’ll grow out of it — they always do.

But maybe the man who has everything and has been one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game should cut out the pantomime nonsense, be a better role model to his millions, nay, billions of followers and admirers, and just act his age and his status.

(Top photo: Waleed Zein/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo, what are you doing? (2024)
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