FIFA has branded Cristiano Ronaldo a “total genius” following the controversial penalty he won against Ghana in their World Cup opener.
The Black Stars of Ghana fought the 2016 European champions to a standstill in the first half. However, a controversial penalty decision later in the second half soiled the Black Stars’ effort.
Ghana defender Salisu had allegedly fouled Cristiano Ronaldo inside Ghana’s eighteen yard box. The referee awarded a straight penalty without a VAR check.
Ronaldo converted the spot kick to give Portugal the lead, but replays of the scene showed the former Manchester United forward just intentionally fell to the ground after a slight contact. Ghana went on to suffer a 3-2 defeat.
After the game, Ghana head coach Nana Otto Addo insisted the penalty decision was wrong.
Otto Addo added that it is Ghana that would have been awarded the penalty instead.
Meanwhile, while the reviewed penalty has been deemed controversial by most pundits and fans, FIFA had referred to Cristiano Ronaldo as a “total genius” with the way he won the penalty.
The 37-year-old become the first player to score in five different World Cups after converting from the penalty spot.
Speaking at a briefing in Doha, Fifa technical study group (TSG) member Sunday Oliseh said strikers are “getting smarter”.
The TSG, which is led by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, examines each match and provides analysis including performance data and trends.
A break down of the analysis shows that a total of 8 penalties have been awarded after 20 games in the tournament, with projections that it will reach the 24 that was awarded in the group stages of the 2018 edition.
Note that only three penalties have been missed so far in Qatar World Cup with the remaining seven scored.
Among the scored penalties is Ronaldo’s against Ghana after going down in a challenge with Mohammed Salisu.
Despite the controversies surrounding the penalty, Sunday Oliseh, former Nigeria international and a member of the TSG has maintained that Ronaldo was just smart to win the penalty.
“Maybe the strikers are getting smarter?” said Oliseh.
“The Ronaldo penalty, people can say what they want about him, but the smartness to wait for that second, to touch the ball, continue his leg and then get the contact. That is total genius.
“Let’s give strikers the compliment for getting smarter. VAR is also a major reason why this (more penalties being awarded) is happening. Referees can look at it three or four times.”
Another Saudi club Al-Nassr offers Ronaldo £1.2million Weekly contract
Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr has reportedly offered Ronaldo £1.2million a week to play into his 40s after he fell out with his former club, Manchester United.
After the World Cup, Ronaldo may not leave the Middle East, with Al Nassr having a three-year-contract offer for him, estimated to worth £62million.
Al Nassr have met with Ronaldo’s representatives and held “extensive” talks to land the Portugal legend.
Al Nassr are one of the most successful teams in Saudi Arabia, boasting nine league titles.
The interest from Al Nassr is coming after another top side and rival Al Hilal were also plotting a move for Cristiano Ronaldo.
It is still unclear whether the former Man United legend will decide to make a move to the Saudi Arabian league during his last protracted spell in the Premier League.