A video featuring footballer Cristiano Ronaldo hugging a woman in a wheelchair and then posing with her and holding two of his own portraits is viral on social media. Users claim that the video was from Ronaldo’s visit to Iran in September when he met his fan (the woman in the video) Fatima. It is also being claimed that since Ronaldo was sentenced by Iran to a brutal punishment of 99 lashings for hugging the woman, as the Islamic court apparently viewed is act as adultery.

Right-Wing propaganda website OpIndia shared a report on X (formerly Twitter) about the above-mentioned video where they claimed that the footballer had been sentenced to 99 lashings by Iran. They later updated their report. AT the time of the filing of this report, the tweet by OpIndia still says “Iran sentences Cristiano Ronaldo to 99 lashes for committing ‘adultery”. (Archive)

X user Alt Right Spain (@ModoAlt) shared the above-mentioned video on October 13 with a caption in Spanish that can be translated as: “Cristiano Ronaldo has been sentenced to 99 lashes by the Iranian justice system, which the Portuguese will receive the next time he travels to that country, according to Iranian media reports. CR7 hugged the Iranian painter Fátima Hamami as a thank you for giving him a painting. ‘Touching an unmarried woman in Iran is considered adultery.'” The tweet has received over 1.39 Lakh views and has been retweeted over 300 times. (Archive)

Another X user Debashish Sarkar 🇮🇳 (@DebashishHiTs) also posted the same video with a similar claim. The tweet has received over 3.89 Lakh views and has been retweeted over 200 times. (Archive)

Several other users including @AzzatAlsaalem, @MeghUpdates, @PoornimaNimo, @MadhubantiChat3, @momentoviral, @wallstwolverine and Spanish media outlet @UHN_Plus, shared the viral video with the same claim.

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Fact Check

We ran a relevant keyword search on Google that led us to several media reports on the incident. According to a report by the Indian Express from September 21, Cristiano Ronaldo met Fatima Hamami at the Al Nassr team’s mission headquarters in Tehran on September 19. Hamami, who is 85 per cent paralysed, made hyperrealistic portraits of the Portuguese footballer with her feet. She is a ‘superfan’ of the footballer. The meeting was held before a match between Al Nassr and Iran’s Persepolis Football Club.

The report did not have any mention of Ronaldo facing any sentence due to the meeting or for hugging the artist.

We came across another report by Marca, Spain’s national daily sports newspaper, from October 13, where the title said: “Iran fact checks report that Cristiano Ronaldo could receive 99 lashes for adultery”. The report mentioned that Iran’s Embassy in Madrid had denied the claim that the footballer hasd been sentenced to any such punishment and confirmed that the viral claim was false.

Further, we found a tweet from the official X account of the Iranian Embassy in Spain where they denied the claim of any court ruling against Cristiano Ronaldo in Iran and also highlighted how such news could overshadow the plight of Palestinians who were currently stuck in war-stricken regions. The tweet in Spanish can be translated as: “We strongly deny the issuance of any court ruling against any international athlete in Iran. It is a matter of concern that the publication of such unfounded news could overshadow crimes against humanity and war crimes against the oppressed Palestinian nation. It should be noted that Cristiano Ronaldo travelled to Iran on September 18 and 19 to play in an official soccer match and was very well received by the people and the authorities. His sincere and humane meeting with Fatemeh Hamami was also praised and admired by both the people and the country’s sports authorities.”

Therefore, the claim that Cristiano Ronaldo has been sentenced to 99 lashings for hugging his female fan and artist Fatima Hamami is false.

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