Al Nassr had to cancel their training for Monday, September 18, 2023, due to the mammoth crowd that came to see Cristiano Ronaldo in Iran.
The training slated for Monday, September 18, 2023, was supposed to be in preparation for their Asian Champions League encounter against Persepolis.
Persepolis are the defending champions of the Persian Gulf, the top-tier football league in Iran.
Cristiano Ronaldo in Iran
Fans turned up in their droves to see Ronaldo, chasing Al Nassr’s team bus and ascending to the top of a mountain to get the best glimpse of the Portuguese star.
Based on footage shared by Al Nassr on X (formerly known as Twitter), hundreds of fans in Iran could be seen forcefully entering the lobby of the hotel where the Pro League club players are staying.
The Tehran-based fans could be heard chanting “Ronaldo, Ronaldo” whilst inside the lobby of the hotel.
Cristiano Ronaldo wore a happy face as he was accompanied to his room by security guards at the hotel named “Espinas Palace Tehran”.
Reports indicate that a floor has been left for the Al Nassr squad and their staff, with a suite kept for Ronaldo.
The 38-year-old was welcomed elegantly at Tehran, as he was presented with a traditional Persian rug after landing at the Imam Khomeini Airport.
Ronaldo and his teammates were presented with gifts
Ronaldo was visibly happy with the gift, and he alongside his teammates were also handed special all-access sim cards, which will allow them to surf the internet without any restrictions.
The sim cards will allow them to share content across their social platforms during their stay, in addition to many other activities.
Iranian citizens cannot access thousands of websites, and all worldwide messaging services in addition to social media services have been blocked.
Meanwhile, Persepolis currently lead the Persian Gulf league in Iran, with 10 points from four matches.
Their recent league victory came against 16th-placed Foolad, who they defeated by 2-0.
The Tehran Reds began the season with a 1-0 victory over Aluminum, before also recording an identical victory against Tractor.
They drew 1-1 with Zob Ahan on Matchday 3, and they remain unbeaten after four games.
Meanwhile, Al Nassr will trade tackles with Persepolis on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, at the 78-000 capacity Azadi stadium.
Unfortunately for supporters in Tehran, that encounter will be played behind close doors due to a stadium ban imposed on the club.
Why were Persepolis handed a one-match stadium ban?
The stadium ban was handed to the club for a social media post ahead of an Asian Cup encounter with Indian side FC Goa during the 2021/22 campaign.
The infamous post, which has been deleted, pointed to the invasion of India by Iran between (1738-1740), and it also cited historic battles between both nations.
Persepolis took this route to motivate their team in view of a Champions League game with FC Goa.
The move infuriated people in India and their football association formally filed a complaint with the Asian football governing body.
The Asian Football Confederation afterward handed Persepolis a one-game ban for their misdemeanor.
They didn’t feature in any continental competitions last season, and as such their ban would have to take effect from this season, with the visit of Ronaldo’s Al Nassr to be the game.
This might give an indication as to why supporters swarmed around the Al Nassr team bus and also rushed into the hotel where the club was lodged.
Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr on January 1, 2023, on a free transfer after his acrimonious exit from Manchester United.
The Portuguese has had a seismic impact in Saudi Arabia, scoring 21 goals in 25 appearances for the Knights of Najd.
He is set to show his greatness to the entire Asia, in the Asian Champions League, as Al Nassr are placed in Group E.
Group E also houses Philippe Coutinho’s Al-Duhail and Tajikistan club FC Istiklol, 11-time champions of the Tajik League.