Riyadh — We have seen news of Iran sentencing a woman to 90 lashes and one-year imprisonment for merely appearing in an Australian film, which caused a stir among web users especially those in Australia, this worried Saudi Arabia, its regional ideological rival. Saudi Arabia believes that it, instead of Iran, should be entitled to the ‘most holiest’ award. It is therefore, Saudi likewise arrested a Colombian footballer for wearing sleeveless shirt. It is not immediately known how the media audience in Colombia reacted to it.
Saudi Arabian religious police arrested a Colombian soccer player in a shopping mall in Riyadh for wearing a sleeveless shirt and for having a tattoo showing the face of Christian Jesus Christ on his arm.
Footballer Juan Pablo Pino
Juan Pablo Pino, 24, was wearing a sleeveless shirt while walking with his young pregnant wife in a shopping mall in Riyadh when he was seized by Saudi Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (religious police)
After the arrest, the Saudi Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice sent a letter to the Saudi General Youth Welfare Presidency urging it to issue strict directives to foreigners playing for football clubs in the Kingdom not to wear sleeveless shirt, and to cover all tattoos on their bodies.
“Sleeveless shirt is a threat to Saudi’s society, and the tattoo is an insult to our local Muslims. It is completely a negative influence and would send wrong message for the Saudi youths who may imitate him,” the letter said.
The letter contained a photograph of Pino, citing him as a bad example, and called upon all non-Muslim players in the Kingdom to strictly adhere to the directive and to respect Saudi traditions and customs.
Pino’s sleeveless shirt and tattoo caused him troubles
Pino is under contract to play for Saudi Arabia’s Al Nasr football club. He has expressed his “deep sadness” over the incident and said that it was not his intention to violate the laws of the country. The communiqué adds that the player was in the mall “to buy Muslim clothes for his wife, so that she can go out in public dressed in a respectful manner.”
Last year, Romanian player Mirel Radoi, from the Saudi Al-Hilal club kissed the cross he was wearing after scoring a goal. The episode outraged Saudi Muslims and caused a media outcry.
Sleeveless shirt is a threat to Saudi society
Following the incident however, Pino’s pregnant wife is so distressed that she is now demanding that she and her husband be allowed to leave Saudi Arabia immediately. Al Nasr club has asked its Argentine coach Gustavo Costas to try and persuade Pino’s wife to change her mind but his attempts so far have been futile.
The Argentine coach sent to persuade Pino’s wife himself, also had similar issue. In an interview with the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio, Gustavo Costas told about his new life in Saudi Arabia (previously he coached the Peruvian team in Lima, Alianza Lim). In Lima he made the sign of the cross before every game, and wore a rosary around his neck. “Now I can not do this in public, I can only do it in the locker room. If I made the sign of the cross publicly, the Saudis would kill or stone me,” said Costas.