Spanish media reports say Cristiano Ronaldo and his girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez will be allowed to live together in Saudi Arabia despite the Kingdom’s laws which prohibit cohabitation.
The Portuguese superstar has joined Saudi club Al Nassr on a two-and-a-half-year deal believed to be worth around £175 million per year.
Argentine-born Spanish model Rodriguez, who describes herself as a practising Catholic, will also move to Riyadh along with Ronaldo’s five children, of which two are her own.
The pair have never married and Saudi’s Islamic laws strictly prohibit “cohabitation without a marriage contract.”
Specifically, Saudi law states that unmarried expat residents are not allowed to share a home or a hotel room and hotel management and landlords are required to check their marital status.
But authorities are said to be turning a blind eye, allowing Rodriguez and Ronaldo to live under one roof, two Saudi lawyers told Spanish press.
“Although the laws of the kingdom still prohibit cohabitation without a marriage contract, the authorities have recently started to turn a blind eye and no longer prosecute anyone. Although these laws are used when there is a problem or a crime.”
Another lawyer added: “Nowadays Saudi authorities no longer interfere in this matter – for expatriates – even though the law prohibits cohabitation without marriage.”
Georgina Rodriguez could also face problems obtaining a visa as she will not receive one automatically through marriage, and Saudi employment laws decree that “any woman who obtains an entry visa to the kingdom be the wife, worker or first-degree relative of a man residing in the Kingdom.”
However, the lawyers said Al Nassr could personally sponsor the model’s visa, with the alternative of Rodriguez obtaining a one-year tourist visa, though this would expire long before the end of Ronaldo’s contract.
In recent years Saudi Arabia has been liberalising its laws regarding gender relations which were previously in line with Islamic Shariah.
The “reforms” are in line with the nation’s 2030 vision which Riyadh says promotes women as an important part of the Kingdom’s strength.
According to Saudi officials, the Kingdom’s vision aims to develop their talents, invest their energies, and provide them with the right opportunities to build their futures, contributing to the development of society.
In recent years more Saudi females have been appointed to top jobs, women have been allowed to use government services without a male guardian’s consent, permits for women’s gyms have been granted, and women have been able to secure driving licenses.