Old video falsely shared as 'Ronaldo supporting Indonesia's rejection of Israel in U20 World Cup'

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on April 28, 2023 at 12:53
  • 6 min read
  • By AFP Indonesia
A video with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, Facebook and TikTok falsely claims that it shows football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo supporting Indonesia's rejection of Israel's participation in the U20 World Cup in 2023 due to his support for the Palestinian cause. The genuine footage actually shows Ronaldo giving an interview in 2015, during which he talks about his football career. The false clip uses various photos that purportedly display Ronaldo's support for the Palestinians, but the images either are taken out of context or have been digitally altered.

"RESPECT! Cristiano Ronaldo supports Indonesia's rejection of the Israeli national team in the U-20 World Cup," reads the Indonesian-language title of this YouTube video, which was posted on April 2, 2023 and has been viewed more than 162,000 times on the video-sharing platform.

The three-minute, 32-second video begins with football star Ronaldo speaking in Portuguese with Indonesian-subtitles that translate to English as: "Indonesia has made the right move, Israel's participation is unacceptable. I think FIFA has made a wrong decision by removing Indonesia."

The sequence is followed by a narrator speaking in the Indonesian language about Ronaldo's support for Palestinians as the reason for him taking Indonesia's side.

According to the video, Ronaldo "has auctioned his Golden Boot trophy to fund the construction of a school in Gaza", "refused to shake hands with the Israeli president" and "refused to exchange jerseys with Israeli players".

Screenshot of the false post, taken on April 27, 2023

The video was posted days after FIFA announced on March 29, 2023 that it had removed Indonesia as host of the 2023 Under-20 (U20) World Cup amid political turmoil in the Southeast Asian country over Israel's participation in the football tournament.

Indonesia and Israel do not have formal diplomatic relations, and support for the Palestinian cause in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation runs high, fuelling local opposition to hosting the Israeli team.

The governor of Bali, where the tournament's draw was to be held, had called for Israel to be kicked out of the contest, and around a hundred conservative Muslim demonstrators marched in the capital Jakarta to protest Israel's participation.

In a statement on April 18, 2023, FIFA confirmed Argentina would instead host the 2023 U20 World Cup, taking place from May 20 to June 11 (archived link).

The video was also shared alongside a similar claim on Facebook here and here, on TikTok here and here, and on SnackVideo here, racking up more than 535,000 views.

But the claims are false.

False subtitles

A reverse image search using keyframes obtained from InVID-WeVerify found the opening sequence is taken from this video, which shows Ronaldo being interviewed by Portuguese political pundit-turned-president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (archived link).

The 16-minute, 35-second vodeo was posted by Canal 11, a Portuguese football TV channel, in late January 2015.

The video's caption partly reads: "This video was presented in the international congress Football Talks, in Januray [sic] at Estoril, Portugal."

The Ronaldo sequence in the false video match the part seen at the 0:42 mark of the genuine footage.

The English subtitles in Canal 11's video show Ronaldo saying: "My learning process started in Madeira where I have my roots, having left very young at 11. Then I went to Lisbon and stayed for a period. Afterwards I took an important step: to go abroad."

Ronaldo first played football in his birthplace -- the Portuguese islands of Madeira -- before moving to Lisbon and then overseas (archived link).

There is no discussion about Indonesia nor Israel in the interview.

Canal 11 also posted the same video, but without English subtitles, on YouTube on January 14, 2015 (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the genuine Canal 11 video (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the genuine Canal 11 video (right)

Photos in the video

The false video also includes various claims about Ronaldo's show of support to the Palestinian cause, such as refusing to exchange jerseys with Israeli players, snubbing Israel's president, holding a pro-Palestinian sign and auctioning his Golden Boot trophy to fund the construction of a Gaza school.

At the 1:39 mark, it shows two photos of Ronaldo with captions that read: "World Cup Star Cristiano Ronaldo refuse to exchange Jersey with Israel players" and "Ronaldo said: 'I do not exchange my shirt with ASSASSINS."

Both photos, originally taken by an AFP photographer during a 2013 match between the Portuguese and Israeli teams, have been taken out of context.

The first photo, shows Ronaldo with his Portuguese teammates, not Israeli players. Its caption reads: "Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (L) and his team mates leave the pitch at the end of their FIFA 2014 World Cup European zone qualifying group F match against Israel at Ramat Gan Stadium, near Tel Aviv, on March 22, 2013."

The second photo was taken during the game, not after, as shown by the caption: "Israeli Head Coach Eli Guttman (R) speaks with Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo during the FIFA 2014 World Cup European zone qualifying group F match between Israel and Portugal at Ramat Gan Stadium, near Tel Aviv, on March 22, 2013."

Below are screenshot comparisons of the video in the false post (left) and the original AFP pictures (right):

Screenshot comparisons of the video in the false post (left) and the original AFP pictures (right)

AFP has debunked the false claim that Ronaldo refused to shake hands with an "Israeli president", shown in a photo with the footballer. The screenshot in the false video actually shows his encounter with Michel Platini, then the president of Union European Football Associations (UEFA), after a match in 2014.

The picture of Ronaldo holding a sign in Spanish, "Todos con Palestina" (All with Palestine), has been digitally altered, as explained by AFP fact-check reports in English and in Spanish.

The original Associated Press photo shows the the footballer holding a sign, "Todos con Lorca" (All with Lorca). It was taken on May 18, 2011, when Ronaldo and his Real Madrid teammates visited Lorca, a week after the Spanish town was hit by a deadly earthquake (archived link).

In addition, rather than auctioning any of his four Golden Boots to fund a school in Gaza, Ronaldo's top-scorer trophies are on display at the Museu CR7 in his hometown, Funchal, in Madeira, according to the museum's website (archived link).

The Museu CR7 also confirmed this to AFP. "We have the four Golden Boots won by Cristiano Ronaldo on display at the Museum," Linton Ferreira, a museum representative, said in an email on April 26, 2023.

AFP previously debunked a hoax that FIFA announced it had banned Israel from the U20 World Cup in 2023, as well as other false claims about Ronaldo's solidarity with the Palestinians here and here.

Is there content that you would like AFP to fact-check? Get in touch.

Contact us