Saudis make marriage rule exception for Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo’s high-profile deal with Saudi side Al Nassr isn’t just the most expensive single contract in football history, it has also comes with the added bonus of permitting him to bypass some of the country’s strict rules when it comes to unmarried couples living together in the same residence.
Ronaldo, 37, signed a two-and-a-half-year deal in late December with the Saudi Pro League team with a reported annual salary believed to be in the region of £175 million per annum ($212 million).
The Portuguese player’s long-term partner, the Argentine-born Spanish model Georgina Rodriguez, was alongside Ronaldo at his glitzy unveiling last week and is to join him in Riyadh alongside his five children, two of whom he had with Rodriguez.
However, Ronaldo’s initial entry into Saudi life came with a hurdle: the strict Islamic laws which expressly forbid “cohabitation without a marriage contract.”
But according to two Saudi legal experts who spoke to Spain’s TYC Sports, the Saudi government has agreed to make an exception for both Ronaldo and Rodriguez due to the global intrigue and increase in profile that Ronaldo’s signing to Al Nassr has brought to Saudi football.
“Although the laws of the kingdom still prohibit cohabitation without a marriage contract, the authorities have recently started to turn a blind eye and no longer prosecute anyone,” one said.
“Although these laws are used when there is a problem or a crime.”
The other added: “Nowadays Saudi authorities no longer interfere in this matter – for expatriates – even though the law prohibits cohabitation without marriage.”
Despite their living situation not being an issue, Rodriguez’s status as an unmarried foreign woman is thought to represent a stumbling block for her to gain a visa to live in the country.
One potential solution would be for Al Nassr, or even the Saudi football authorities, to sponsor her visa application.
Another would be for Rodriguez to obtain a one-year tourist visa, though this would end well before Ronaldo’s Al Nassr contract is due to expire.
But given the Saudis apparent appetite to turn a blind eye to any legal complications brought on by Ronaldo’s transfer to their country, it seems that any such obstacles will likely be temporary.