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The New Arab

Ronaldo scores own goal by donating shirt to Israel foreign minister

Yisrael Katz met Cristiano Ronaldo during a trip to Italy [Twitter]

Date of publication: 10 December, 2019

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Israel's foreign minister said he had 'the pleasure' of meeting football superstar Cristiano, surprising many Arab fans who considered him supportive of the Palestinian cause.

Football star Cristiano Ronaldo has sparked outrage on Twitter after images circulated of him donating one of his football shirts to Israel’s Foreign Minister.

The senior Israeli minister, Yisrael Katz, tweeted a picture of the pair’s meeting in Italy, where Ronaldo plays for Juventus FC.

The post prompted a barrage of comments from Ronaldo’s fans with Palestine flags and pro-Palestine slogans.

“In addition to my diplomatic meetings in Italy, I've had the pleasure to meet @juventusfcen & its' stars,” tweeted Katz. 

“I conveyed warm greetings from Israeli fans to Ronaldo & his team mates. Ronaldo is a great player & deserves to win the [cup] at least once more,” he added.

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The controversial move took some Arab fans by surprised, as Ronaldo has voied solidarity with the Palestinian cause in the past.

In 2012 the sporting hero donated his Golden Boot award to the Real Madrid foundation, which auctioned it off to raise funds to build schools in the Palestinian territories.

Supporters also posted a picture of the star wearing a traditional pro-Palestinian scarf.

The 34-year-old soccer star, who has an estimated $450 million fortune, has previously been the recipient of praise from the region for his charity.

In 2016, he and his Real Madrid teammates met a 5-year-old Palestinian boy who survived a firebombing by Jewish extremists that killed his parents and younger brother.

As an ambassador for Save the Children, Ronaldo has raised awareness of the plight of children in 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," he said in a video for the children’s charity during the siege of Aleppo in 2016.

The star was also the centre of a fake news story that spread on social media earlier this year, that said he had donated $1.5 million to to Palestinians in Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

AFP debunked the story as a hoax.

A video of Ronaldo refusing to swap shirts with an Israeli player after a friendly match has also been debunked as fake.

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