Iran State TV Airs Fake Cristiano Ronaldo Quote Calling Israelis ‘Assassins’

Cristiano Ronaldo
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

An Iranian state news agency called the Young Journalists Club (YJC) recently broadcast a fabricated story alleging Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo referred to Israelis as “the most hated” soccer fans and “assassins,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on Monday.

YJC used doctored video footage of Ronaldo from previous years to create a fake news report aired on June 15 via Iranian state television. The news agency falsely dubbed Ronaldo as saying the following in a 2016 video: “Israeli football fans, for me, are the most hated. I cannot tolerate them. I won’t exchange my shirts with assassins.”

This quote differs entirely from the original comments spoken by Ronaldo in English in the 2016 video clip in question, which was recorded by a British charity called Save The Children.

“In the original English-language video, Ronaldo draws attention to the plight of Syrian children during that country’s brutal civil war,” RFE/RL clarified on Monday.

Ronaldo said the following in English in the original 2016 video: “This is for the children of Syria. We know that you have been suffering a lot. I am a very famous player. But you are the true heroes. Don’t lose your hope. The world is with you. We care about you. I am with you.”

RFE/RL detailed additional fabrications included in YJC’s June 15 report, writing:

Iran state TV’s report also falsely quoted Ronaldo as employing the official terminology that Tehran uses to refer to Israel.

“If I say that I like the Quds occupying regime just one time, FIFA (world football’s governing body) will select me as the player of the year,” Ronaldo was dubbed as saying in the report. Al-Quds is the name of Palestine in Arabic.

The state TV report also included what it claimed was footage of Ronaldo refusing to swap shirts with an Israeli soccer player following a match in 2016. But the player in the footage was Aron Gunnarsson, the captain of Iceland.

YJC in its June 15 report further included a photoshopped image of Ronaldo edited to make it appear as if he was holding a sign that read, “All with Palestine” in Spanish.

“The original image shows Ronaldo holding a sign that read, ‘All with Lorca,’ referring to the 2011 earthquake near the Spanish town of Lorca that killed nine people,” according to RFE/RL, which is a U.S. government-funded broadcaster.

Iran’s Islamic government refuses to officially recognize Israel’s legitimacy as a sovereign, Jewish state. Iran, which designates Shia Islam as its state religion, publically supports the Palestinian cause, despite Palestinian leaders being largely Sunni Muslim. The U.S. and other Western-allied governments have accused Tehran of additionally backing terrorist groups that target Israel, such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The U.S. identifies the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an official wing of the Iranian armed forces, as a foreign terrorist organization.

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