According to reports, Colombian winger Juan Pablo Pino was arrested by the Saudi moral police when fellow shoppers in a Riyadh mall complained about the exposed tattoos on his arms, which include the face of Jesus and other religious symbols. Pino joined Saudi club Al Nassr on loan from Galatasaray at the end of August and apparently was not aware that showing his tattoos by wearing a sleeveless shirt in public would cause him any problems.
From Colombia Reports:
Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative countries in the Muslim world, and according to one of the country's most respected clerics, Nayimi Sheik Mohammed, Saudi law prohibits tattoos, no matter what their form, and every player has to abide with these rules.
The cleric went on to stress the importance of respecting the status of "Sharia" (Islamic law) and that the tattoos must be covered at all times.
Pino, who plays in the Saudi league, has expressed "deep sorrow" for his actions and said he respects the laws of the country. He was released from custody when a team delegate arrived and discussed the matter with the police.
Gulf News reports that a Saudi Football Federation official "sent a circular to all clubs asking them to advise their professionals and players to respect Saudi traditions and not show their religious symbols in a way disregarding Saudi customs and traditions" after a cross tattoo on the arm of a Romanian player for Al Hilal caused controversy last year.
It's unclear whether Al Nassr informed Pino of this in his short time with the club, but he'll probably be investing in some long-sleeve shirts now.
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- Juan Pablo Pino