Emphasizing that Argentina's Lionel Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be compared, the Turkish president on Sunday said the latter was subjected to a "political ban" in the World Cup.
"They have wasted Ronaldo. Unfortunately, they have imposed a political ban on him. Sending a footballer like Ronaldo to the pitch with just 30 minutes remaining to the match ruined his psychology and took away his energy," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an event with youth in eastern Erzurum province.
"Ronaldo is someone who stands for the Palestinian cause," he added.
The 37-year-old came on as a substitute in the second half of a World Cup quarterfinal game against Morocco in which Portugal lost 1-0. He had also been on the bench to start in the round of 16 against Switzerland, making an appearance as a substitute.
Ronaldo, the only player to score in five World Cups, experienced the great sadness of being eliminated from his last World Cup and was unable to hold back his tears as he walked through the dressing room corridor.