Saudi Religious Police Target Soccer Players

Saudi Arabia’s feared religious police have turned their attention to the kingdom’s soccer players, accusing nine of them of sexual misconduct and complaining that Romanian international Mirel Radoi recently had a cross tattooed on his forearm.

Religious police arrested nine players over the past two years on charges of having illicit relationships with women, the Saudi news website Sabq reported. Sabq did not identify the players, but said they had been arrested in Riyadh, Jedda and Medina. It said one of the players was a foreign national.

“The last case was last week, when a well-known football player was caught with a woman at a hotel in Jeddah,” Sabq said.

Saudi Arabia bans contact between men and women that are not married or related to one another unless the women are accompanied by a male chaperon.

In a separate incident, Sabq reported that the religious police had filed a complaint against Radoi for kissing a tattooed cross on his forearm at the beginning of a recent match. The police charged that Radoi’s act violated Saudi regulations. “Such acts negatively influence young people's ideas,” Sabq quoted the police as saying. Saudi Arabia bans non-Muslims from publicly adhering to their religious norms.

Mirel Radoi wears his tattoo for all to see. Photo credit: Brian Whitaker

Radoi, who plays for Al Hilal and was last year declared Player of the Year, was fined $5,500 last month and suspended for two matches, for reportedly accusing Saudi footballer Hussein Abdul Ghani, who plays for Nasr Club, of being gay.

“I don’t know why he keeps following me and annoying me during the matches…he touches me like a girl…I don’t know why….perhaps he does not like women but men,” Radoi was reported to have said.

Saudi Arabia bans homosexuality.


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