Ex Barcelona Star Appears to Agree With Cristiano Ronaldo About Problem With the Saudi Pro League

Ex Barcelona Star Appears to Agree With Cristiano Ronaldo About Problem With the Saudi Pro League

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
April 2, 2024 at 10:04 AM
In this article:
Cristiano Ronaldo logo
C. Ronaldo
Al Nassr FC logoFPortugal logo
Sevilla logoM-
Saudi Professional League logo
KSA Professional League
Saudi Arabia
Al Nassr FC logo
Al Nassr
Saudi Arabia
Al-Hilal Saudi FC logo
Al-Hilal Saudi FC
Saudi Arabia
Al-Shabab FC logo
Al-Shabab FC
Saudi Arabia
FC Barcelona logo
FC Barcelona
  • A former Barcelona star has appeared to agree with Cristiano Ronaldo's comments
  • Ivan Rakitic joined CR7 in the Saudi Pro League after ditching Sevilla for Al-Shabab
  • The former Barca midfield gem is not satisfied with the level of officiating in the SPL

Former Barcelona midfielder, Ivan Rakitic, has seemed to echo Cristiano Ronaldo's earlier criticism of the subpar performance of referees in the Saudi Pro League (SPL).

Ronaldo, credited with putting the Gulf country's top division in the spotlight following his blockbuster move to Al-Nassr in January 2023, has voiced his concerns about the officiating.

Ivan Rakitic, Cristiano Ronaldo, referee, Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Shabab, Saudi Pro League, Barcelona.
Ivan Rakitic appears to echo Cristiano Ronaldo's critical assessment of referees in the Saudi Pro League. Photos by Khalid Alhaj/MB Media and Manuel Queimadelos Alonso.
Source: Getty Images

The 39-year-old's grievances revolve around the perception that Al-Nassr's Riyadh rivals and title contenders, Al-Hilal, receive preferential treatment from referees.

Currently on an 18-game winning streak, the longest in SPL history, and undefeated all season, Al-Hilal have faced criticism for benefiting from favourable decisions, particularly penalty calls.

The Blue Waves have been awarded the most penalties, prompting the veteran forward to ridicule one awarded to them in a match against Al-Riyadh, which the runaway league leaders won 3-1.

Recently, a similar incident occurred in their game against Al Shabab, which ended 4-3 in favour of the Riyadh giants.

Rakitic, clearly dissatisfied with the perceived bias in officiating, seems to have voiced his frustration with the treatment his team has received.

"Nobody can understand... We will work hard and never stop!" he wrote on social media after his team's 3-4 loss, via Essentially Sports.

What happened with Rakitic?

During the first half, Rakitic was advancing inside Al-Hilal's penalty box when the Blues Waves' defender, Kalidou Koulibaly, tackled him, resulting in a significant trip.

While the former Barcelona star and his Al Shabab players anticipated a penalty, the official instead signalled for a goal kick in favour of the Saudi league leaders.

How many penalties has Al-Hilal received so far?

According to statistics gathered from Transfermarkt, Al-Hilal leads the list of clubs with the most penalties, having received a total of 16.

Ronaldo's Al-Nassr follows them with 11 and Al-Ittihad with nine, while Rakitic's Al-Shabab has received just five penalties throughout the season.

Ronaldo vents at referee in Al-Hilal tie

In related news, Sports Brief noted CR7's struggle to make an impact in the highly anticipated Riyadh Derby between Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr during the Riyadh Season Cup final.

Frustrated by both his team's performance and possibly his own, Ronaldo expressed his displeasure towards centre referee, Tori Penso, a respected female American official.

Penso responded by issuing Ronaldo a yellow card for dissent after he expressed disagreement with a decision, seemingly gesturing with his hands for her to be replaced.

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe photo
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe is a Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and La Liga editor with five-year experience. He previously worked with Sports Corna and 360SportsGH.