on January 28, 2021

Genealogical study reveals surprises on the biggest scorer in world football history

on January 28, 2021

Estudo genealógico revela surpresas sobre maior marcador da história do futebol mundial

When a genealogical study starts, it is not possible to know exactly where it will end up. It is not uncommon to discover stories that surprise or ancestral connections that were not known. This was exactly the case with Pedro Arruda. A researcher specializing in Sephardic genealogy, Pedro, when searching for his ancestors, ended up discovering that he and Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo have a common ancestry.

The discovery, which proves that the player Cristiano Ronaldo has Jewish roots, was unreasonable and came as a surprise to Pedro and the other genealogists at Martins Castro who collaborated in the research. “I discovered not only that he (Cristiano Ronaldo) descends from these Jews, but we also have the same New-Christian ancestor,” celebrates the researcher. The ancestor in question is Leonor Ribeiro. Arrested and tortured by the Inquisition on charges of the crime of Judaism, Leonor died in Lisbon, in 1595, a widow and far from her family.

The research shows that the player Cristiano Ronaldo, like other Portuguese from Madeira Island, is a descendant of Portuguese Jews who fled the mainland to escape persecution at the beginning of the 16th century. It is known that the island was one of the main migration routes for Jews who sought to escape the stricter control of the Holy Office.


For Renato Martins, lawyer and partner of a firm that works in the area of international mobility, “discovering the Sephardic ancestry of someone famous like Cristiano Ronaldo helps to make the law known not only in Brazil and Portugal, but throughout the world!”. The lawyer believes that, as a means of historical reparation, Portuguese citizenship through the Sephardic route still needs to be more widespread. “These Jews migrated to various parts of the world and it is estimated that thousands of Latin Americans are entitled to this ransom. The big challenge today is to publicize this possibility”, he says.

The Law of Reparation and genealogy

Portuguese legislation, since 2015, through Law No. 1/2013 and Decree-Law 30-A/2015, started to grant Portuguese nationality, by naturalization, to descendants of Sephardic Jews. This is an achievement for the descendants of Sephardic Jews who today have the chance to regain their Portuguese origins by obtaining nationality.

One of the points debated in the process of approval and regulation of the law, which became known as the repair law, was how the confirmation of Sephardic ancestry would be given. It was then defined that this descent is attested through a genealogical study that is then submitted to the Israeli Communities of Lisbon or Porto. Thus, genealogy has gained prominence and fulfilled a primordial role in the processes of nationality through the Sephardic route.

For these specific cases, the genealogical study seeks to find a link between the applicant for the nationality application and the Sephardic Jews. It's about going back in time. To go through centuries of history, since the Sephardic Jews were the Jews of the former Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain), who from the end of the 15th century came to be persecuted by the State and the Holy Inquisition.

Historian and genealogist at Martins Castro, Camila Amaral, says that “tens of thousands of Jews were forced to receive baptismal water and began to be identified as new Christians”. Camila also adds that many other Jews fled, having as their final destination several countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela.


It is thus known that many Brazilians may be entitled to Portuguese nationality, and, as this possibility becomes better known in the country, interest in genealogy and in more information about the legal process itself increases. This growth has been felt by Martins Castro in recent months. "As the legislation becomes better known in Brazil, we have noticed an increase in interest on the part of Brazilians who, in increasing numbers, contact us in search of more information and advice to start the process", says Renato Martins .

Published in Portal Terra