Iranian state television reportedly misattributed anti-Israel statements to Portuguese professional soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.
A report by Iran’s state-controlled media monopoly, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), added a Persian dub to a 2016-published video of Ronaldo voicing support for children suffering in Syria’s civil war, according to Iran International.
“This is for the children of Syria. We know that you have been suffering a lot. I am a very famous player. But you are the true heroes. Don’t lose your hope. The world is with you. We care about you. I am with you,” the 37-year-old Manchester United forward was quoted as saying in the video for Save The Children, a London-based humanitarian organization.
But instead of calling for Syrian kids not to lose hope, IRIB’s dub of Ronaldo made comments about Israeli soccer fans, the United States-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
“Israeli football fans, for me, are the most hated. I cannot tolerate them. I won’t exchange my shirts with assassins,” Ronaldo’s IRIB dub said. “If I say that I like the Quds occupying regime just one time, FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) will select me as the player of the year.”
Al-Quds is the Arabic name of Palestine.
In addition to the incorrect dub, IRIB also allegedly included in its report an image of Ronaldo holding a photoshopped sign that said, “All with Palestine.”
However, the original image showed Ronaldo holding an “All with Lorca” sign, referencing a Spanish town of the same name that suffered nine fatalities during a 2011 earthquake.
Iranians have accused authorities of insulting their intelligence over IRIB’s report. Meanwhile, local media outlets accused the state television of airing a “ridiculous” report that was “full of lies.”
“They are practically lying to us with our own money,” Iranian cartoonist Payam Pourfallah said in an Instagram post, showing the state agency’s report alongside the original 2016 video that featured Ronaldo.
IRIB’s report emerged as tensions soared between Iran and its regional rival, Israel.
The former blamed Israel for the killing of Hassan Sayyad Khodaei in the Iranian capital of Tehran on May 22. Khodaei was a colonel in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite branch of the country’s armed forces.
His death was part of a series of incidents inside Iran, including assassinations, sabotage and cyberattacks — some of which have been blamed on Israel.