Video shows Cristiano Ronaldo grabbing microphone of Portuguese journalist, not 'Israeli reporter'

  • Published on December 8, 2023 at 10:28
  • Updated on December 8, 2023 at 10:30
  • 6 min read
  • By AFP Indonesia
There has been a wave of misinformation about celebrities purportedly showing support for Israelis or Palestinians since the Israel-Hamas war erupted on October 7, 2023. Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is the latest star to be targeted, when a video of him was viewed hundreds of thousands of times in social media posts that falsely claimed it showed him grabbing an Israeli journalist's microphone in an expression of solidarity with Palestinians. The outburst in fact happened in 2016, years before the war, and the reporter was Portuguese.

"The moment when Ronaldo throws an Israeli journalist's microphone," reads Indonesian-language text on a TikTok video, posted on October 12, 2023.

The video, which has more than 500,000 views, shows a reporter trying to interview Cristiano Ronaldo before the Portuguese footballer grabs his microphone and throws it away.

The 11-second footage also shows an Israeli flag emoji on the reporter and curse words directed at Israel.

The clip then shows a photo of Ronaldo apparently lifting his football jersey to reveal a T-shirt that says "Save Palestine", followed by a picture of him holding a sign that appears to read "Everyone with Palestine" in Spanish, and a photo of him wearing a green scarf.

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Screenshot of the false post, taken on December 8, 2023

The video also spread on TikTok here and here, and on video-sharing app SnackVideo, racking up more than 80,000 views.

The videos surfaced after Hamas militants launched an attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

In response, Israel launched a military campaign against Hamas, killing more than 17,000 people, mostly civilians and including thousands of children, according to Gaza's Hamas-run government.

2016 outburst

Keyword searches on Google found the video actually shows Ronaldo being interviewed by Diogo Torres -- a reporter from Portuguese broadcaster CMTV -- when the Portugal team had a morning walk during the Euro 2016 tournament in France.

The original video was published by various media channels, including CMTV and football news outlet Goal, on June 22, 2016 (archived links here and here).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in false post (left) and the CMTV video published by Goal in 2016 (right):

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Screenshot comparison of the video in false post (left) and the CMTV video published by Goal in 2016 (right)

According to CMTV, Torres asked Ronaldo: "Are you ready for this game?" before the football star grabbed his microphone and threw it into a lake.

CMTV's logo can be seen on the reporter's red microphone (archived link).

As reported by CMTV and British tabloid The Mirror in July 2016, two divers recovered the microphone from the lake and it would be auctioned off for charity (archived links here and here).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the microphone in the video (left), the microphone after it was retrieved from the lake (centre) and the logo of CMTV (right):

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Screenshot comparison of the microphone in the video (left), the microphone after it was retrieved from the lake (centre) and the logo of CMTV (right)

British journalist Dan Walker wrote about Ronaldo's outburst in his 2016 book "Magic, Mud and Maradona", where he described Torres as a Portuguese journalist -- not an Israeli journalist (archived link).

News reports about the incident, including here and here, also said Torres was a Portuguese reporter (archived links here and here).

Ronaldo's photos

Meanwhile, the picture apparently showing Ronaldo lifting his football jersey to reveal a "Save Palestine" T-shirt is doctored.

A reverse image search on Google found the original photo published by AFP on February 21, 2010, and it shows the word "Madeira" on Ronaldo's T-shirt.

The photo's caption reads: "Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo lifts his jersey to display the name of the island Madeira, written on his shirt, as he celebrates scoring against Villarreal during their Spanish League football match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 21, 2010."

AFP also reported at the time that Ronaldo had dedicated the goal to his home island of Madeira after it was hit by a mudslide.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the doctored picture (left) and the genuine photo on the AFP Forum website (right):

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Screenshot comparison of the doctored picture (left) and the genuine photo on the AFP Forum website (right)

The picture apparently showing Ronaldo holding a placard saying "Everyone with Palestine" in Spanish is also doctored.

A keyword search found the original photo published by The Associated Press news agency on May 18, 2018 (archived link).

It shows the Portuguese footballer holding a sign saying "Everyone with Lorca" during a visit to the Spanish town after it was hit by a deadly earthquake.

AFP also published a picture, which was taken on the same day, showing Ronaldo standing next to Togolese footballer Emmanuel Adebayor, who is holding the same sign.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the doctored picture (left) and The Associated Press's photo (right):

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Screenshot comparison of the doctored picture (left) and the genuine photo from The Associated Press (right)

Furthermore, the photo of Ronaldo wearing a green scarf is not linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

The picture was taken on February 22, 2023 -- months before the war erupted -- during a photoshoot for his club, Al-Nassr of Saudi Arabia.

The original handout picture was published by several news agencies, including Anadolu Agency and AFP, with a caption that reads: "Cristiano Ronaldo of Al Nassr performs sword dance with traditional clothes within the celebrations for Saudi Arabia's founding anniversary in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on February 22, 2023."

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo shared in the false post (left) and the genuine photo on the AFP Forum website (right):

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Screenshot comparison of the photo shared in the false post (left) and the genuine photo on the AFP Forum website (right)

AFP has debunked various false claims about Ronaldo purportedly supporting Palestinians, such as the football star snubbing Israel's president and refusing to shake hands with an Israeli.

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