Toni Kroos was booed and jeered by fans throughout Real Madrid’s 5-3 extra-time win over Atlético Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
The midfielder, who entered the game in the 67th minute, was targeted by the Saudi Arabian crowd from the moment he stepped on the pitch. He was jeered at every touch of the ball and even cheered when he slipped and fell.
The reason for the fans’ ire was Kroos’s comments about the Saudi Pro League last year. The German international criticized the league for its focus on money and said that he would never play there.
“They go for money,” Kroos said in an interview. “It’s against football. Things are getting difficult for the football we know and love. I would never go to Saudi because of the lack of human rights.”
Kroos’s comments were widely reported in Saudi Arabia and sparked a backlash from fans. The midfielder was seen as being disrespectful to the country and its football league.
Kroos himself appeared to be unfazed by the fans’ reaction. He tweeted after the game: “That was fun today! What a great crowd.”
Real Madrid will face Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final on Sunday.