Despite his much-anticipated debut for Saudi Arabian football club Al-Nassr, Cristiano Ronaldo will not be playing in the first match against Al-Ta'ee.
According to various reports, he may first have to serve out a two-match suspension imposed by FIFA, the global football governing body, or wait for a registration spot to open up in the squad of his new club.
Phone blown for Blue kid
In Nov. 2022, Ronaldo was found guilty of improper and violent conduct by the English Football Association (FA) for smacking a phone out of a young Everton fan's hand while playing for Manchester United.
The FA imposed a £50,000 fine and a two-match ban. However, days later, Ronaldo's contract with Manchester United was terminated. Thus, he was unable to serve the suspension with Manchester United.
According to the Daily Mail, the ban by FA will now carry over to the Saudi Pro League, therefore forcing Ronaldo to sit out the next two matches.
His first match against Al-Ta'ee is scheduled for Jan. 5, while his next game against Al-Shabab is on Jan. 14. All 28,000 seats for the Al-Ta'ee match were reportedly sold out, supposedly bought by fans who wanted to watch Ronaldo play.
"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."
The Daily Mail reported that when the FA imposed the ban on Ronaldo, they did take into account the above regulation.
"Should [Ronaldo] leave [Manchester United Football Club] before it completes two first team competitive matches, the balance of the suspension will apply to any new club he should join," said the FA, according to the Daily Mail.
AFP reported that the Saudi Football Association refused to answer questions about Ronaldo's suspension.
Instead, they referred questions about the ban to Al Nassr.
But it doesn't mean plain sailing for Ronaldo. There appears to be another obstacle to him getting a game -- the lack of an open registration spot in his new club.
According to AFP via France24, Al Nassr has already registered the maximum number of foreign players, eight.
Citing an unnamed club official, this means that Al Nassr may have to sell or even terminate the contract of one of these players in order to register Ronaldo.
Rocky transition to the new club
Ronaldo's transition to Al-Nassr has not been entirely smooth.
In Ronaldo's first press conference for Al-Nassr, he fumbled as he said "South Africa" instead of Saudi Arabia.
During that same press conference, Ronaldo claimed that he turned down"many clubs" around the world for Al-Nassr.
AP news reported that Ronaldo said he gave his word to Al-Nassr and wants to provide "a different vision of this country and football".
"Nobody knows this, but I had many opportunities in Europe, Brazil, Australia, the U.S., even Portugal. Many clubs tried to sign me," Ronaldo said.
However, it is rumoured that multiple European teams rejected Ronaldo despite lowering his wage demands to £80,000 a week, said The Athletic.
While Ronaldo will not be on the field, the Daily Mail said that he would be in the stands as he wants to see his teammates play.