Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best soccer players in the world, has incurred the wrath of Buddhist social media users for posting a photo they deemed disrespectful.
The Real Madrid forward shared an Instagram photo Thursday where he can be seen posing in casual clothing with his foot at the base of a statute of Buddha’s head. Underneath Ronaldo wrote “Bom dia,” Portuguese for “good morning.”
A day later, the post received nearly 2 million likes and well over 20,000 comments. While some fans stood by the world-renowned athlete, many expressed their displeasure and were even outraged.
Some of the comments included, “no respect,” as well as, “Stupid ronaldo...u should respect lord buddha." One commenter wrote “Please delete this photo…Pls don’t put your foot on the Budda” while another wrote, “That is god do not put your leg on that.”
A fan of the London club Arsenal, chimed in with “I hope you can take down this picture. It's disrespectful towards Buddhism... COYG”
Some users came to the player’s defense. One wrote, “Nice statue of Buddha and nice pose CR7. Luckily it's only made of stone. No harm in that. People are always looking to judge others and misinterpret intentions to feed their own demons. Meanwhile, they are doing things to harm others on purpose on a daily basis. You are a good man who inspires many. Plus you give away your money. What do all these haters do?????”
Ronaldo is often ranked as the world’s most famous athlete. The 31-year-old has a net worth estimated at $280 million, earning a base salary of $45 million. He earns additional tens of millions per year from modeling and brand endorsements.
Ronaldo is also very active on social media, he is the eighth most followed user on Instagram and 13th most followed on Twitter. His Facebook page is the fourth most liked, above Eminem and Coca-Cola. The star often receives praise for the material he shares, but he is not new to controversy. Earlier this year, his Instagram account got him in trouble when he posted a photo of himself and two friends on a private jet donning ant masks, captioned “Tanned faces!” Many users felt the picture was racist.
The star is also known for his extravagant acts of charity. In 2014, he donated $83,000 to cover the medical costs of a 10-month-old boy suffering from cortical dysplasia, a rare neurological disorder. Last year, he bought his agent Jorge Mendes an entire island in Greece.