Cristiano Ronaldo receives warm reception in Iran ahead of Asian Champions League match
Cristiano Ronaldo was given a rapturous reception in Iran on Monday ahead of Al Nassr's historic Asian Champions League clash against Persepolis.
The Al Nassr captain will lead his side out in what is the first visit of a Saudi Arabian team to Iran since 2016 after Tehran and Riyadh reached a China-brokered deal that was announced in March.
The streets were crowded with fans who raised welcome banners and pictures of Ronaldo upon the arrival of the team after the restoration of relations between the two countries, re-establishing diplomatic relations and bringing back their respective embassies.
After seven years of playing at neutral destinations following a breakdown in diplomatic ties, clubs of the two regional powerhouses are now able to play in home and away ties following the lifting of a travel ban on Saudi nationals travelling to Iran.
The Asian Football Confederation called it a “historic move” as it reflects the commitment of Saudi Arabia and Iran “towards fostering closer ties between their respective footballing communities”.
Since 2016, Saudi and Iranian clubs drawn together in the Champions League had used stadiums in Dubai and Doha.
On Monday, supporters invaded the team's hotel, despite attempts by security personnel to prevent them. The fans chanted Ronaldo's name, with children and women carrying pictures of the Portugal captain.
Al Nassr posted several photos of Ronaldo receiving a luxurious handmade Iranian carpet from Persepolis supporters.
Children wore Al Nassr and Portugal shirts bearing Ronaldo’s name and number, and some fans performed the famous celebration of the former Real Madrid player.
Meanwhile in Tehran