Cristiano Ronaldo has been given special SIM card ahead of AFC Champions League clash in Iran
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Cristiano Ronaldo and his Al Nassr teammates have been given a special SIM card ahead of their AFC Champions League clash with Persepolis.
Al Nassr are the first Saudi side to play in Iran for eight years, with relations between the two countries non-existent until a an agreement was brokered by China earlier this year.
Al Nassr and Persepolis have been paired in the same Champions League group, with the first meeting taking place at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, the capital of Iran.
Upon arrival Ronaldo and the rest of the group saw their coach mobbed by fans, who even managed to make their way into the Espinas Palace Hotel where Luis Castro's side are staying.
Ronaldo was handed some roses and gifted a traditional Persian rug, but according to the Daily Mail, he and his colleagues also received SIM cards for internet access.
Locals are heavily restricted, with tens of thousands of websites and all international messaging and social media all blocked.
The reasons are political and religious, but proceedings were ramped up around a year ago when protests went on for months in the country following the death of Mahsa Amin in police custody.
As per Al Jazeera, apps like WhatsApp and Instagram were blocked as authorities claimed foreign platforms were supporting the "riots" and endangering national security.
X, Facebook and access to other news outlets are also unavailable.
Citizens have bypassed the ruling with VPNs to change their locations but authorities have grown wise to that and so connections must be altered regularly in what is a fairly tedious task.
Iran's Minister of Tourism and Cultural Heritage, Ezzatollah Zarghami, called for Ronaldo and his family to download domestic messaging services in order to communicate.
Zarghami told reporters: "He can contact his wife and children and neighbourhood friends and everyone else, and tell them all to install them as well, and he should feel lucky to be able to do that too!”
Meanwhile, Reza Darvish, Persepolis's president, had encouraged for Al Nassr players and officials to be given the SIM cards.
He said: "I have spoken with the CEO of [major mobile carrier] Irancell, and I told him we want to give players and personnel Irancell SIM cards with unrestricted internet so they can use it from the time they enter Iran till the time they leave,” he said.
No fans will be in attendance for the fixture, with Persepolis serving a one-game stadium ban for a social media post which was deemed offensive.
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