Old clip of Cristiano Ronaldo crying falsely linked to Gaza war

  • Published on December 11, 2023 at 09:59
  • 5 min read
  • By AFP Indonesia
A number of celebrities have spoken out about the Gaza war, triggered by brutal Hamas attacks on October 7, 2023, to which Israel responded with a blistering military offensive that flattened huge swathes of the Palestinian territory. A video that shows football superstar Cristano Ronaldo crying, however, has racked up millions of views in posts falsely linking it to the fighting. It was actually taken from a 2019 interview and shows Ronaldo in tears after watching footage of his late father.

"Ronaldo Cries Seeing a Palestinian Kid Chanting Allahuakbar," says Indonesian-language text superimposed on this TikTok video, uploaded on October 24, 2023.

The 14-second video shows two clips side by side. The clip on the right side shows Ronaldo sitting on a couch and wiping his tears after apparently watching something in front of him.

The clip on the left side shows a boy lying on a hospital bed with an oxygen tube in his nose, while repeatedly saying: "Allahu Akbar" -- Arabic for "God is the greatest".

The clip also shows sticker text in Arabic that reads: "Allahu Akbar".

Screenshot of the first false post, taken on December 2, 2023

The video has garnered more than 5.6 million additional views after it was shared with a similar claim on YouTube, Facebook and SnackVideo.

Another version of the video was shared with a similar claim on TikTok here on October 26, 2023.

The video -- also 14 seconds long -- consists of two side-by-side clips.

The one on the right is the same footage of the Portuguese football star, who currently plays for Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia, wiping his tears.

The other clip shows the back of a boy sitting on a hospital bed, wearing a torn Al Nassr yellow jersey bearing the name "Ronaldo" and his iconic number 7.

"Cristiano Ronaldo Cries Watching This Video," says the Indonesian-language text on the footage. "A Palestinian kid is a victim of Israel's attack. This child still wears a CRISTIANO RONALDO JERSEY on his wounded body although the shirt is tattered..."

Screenshot of the second false post, taken on December 2, 2023

The second video has racked up more than five million views after it circulated with a similar claim on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook and SnackVideo.

Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 hostages -- 137 of whom remain in Gaza, Israeli officials say.

In response, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched a military offensive in Gaza that has killed at least 17,900 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

During a seven-day truce that expired on December 1, Gaza militants released 105 hostages including dozens of Israelis freed in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

According to UNICEF, scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured daily in Gaza and the Palestinian territory is "the most dangerous place in the world to be a child" (archived link).

However, the video of Ronaldo predates the Gaza war by four years and has nothing to do with the Israel-Hamas war.

Emotional interview

Keyword and reverse image searches on Google traced the video of Ronaldo to an interview with Piers Morgan, an anchor of TV show "Good Morning Britain", years ago.

A two-minute snippet of the interview was posted on the YouTube channel of "Good Morning Britain" in September 2019 (archived link).

"Cristiano Ronaldo Becomes Emotional On Seeing Footage of His Father," the video's title says.

It shows the football star crying after watching a clip of his father speaking proudly of his son before he passed away in 2005.

"I never saw the video," Ronaldo said in the interview, which was aired by UK broadcaster ITV.

Below are screenshot comparisons of the the clip in the false posts (left) and the genuine video from Good Morning Britain (right):

Screenshot comparisons of the the clip in the false posts (left) and the genuine video from Good Morning Britain (right)

British dailies The Independent and The Mirror also published clips of the interview on September 16, 2019 (archived links here and here).

Clips of children

AFP cannot independently verify when or where the clips of children were taken but they have circulated in social media posts during the Israeli-Hamas war.

A Google reverse image search found the clip of the boy with the oxygen tube has circulated since at least October 16, 2023, in social media posts -- such as here, here and here -- claiming it shows a Palestinian boy (archived links here, here and here).

The clip of the boy with the torn yellow jersey was previously posted on the verified Instagram account of Palestinian journalist Belal Khaled on October 20, 2023 (archived links here and here).

"He loved Cristiano Ronaldo and dreamed of becoming a professional football player, but Israeli missiles tore this shirt and killed his dream," the post's caption reads.

Arabic-language newspapers published reports about the footage -- here and here -- crediting it to Khaled (archived links here and here).

AFP has repeatedly debunked misinformation related to the Gaza war, including posts that target Ronaldo here and here.

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