Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan was asked:
What is the ruling on venerating a professional soccer player who is a disbeliever and he praising him as a result of supporting a team?
“He does not praise him for his disbelief, he only praises him for his playing and skill in playing. In any case, this is dangerous and he is sinful for it. However, it does not reach the level of disbelief. It is disbelief when he praises him for disbelief or his misguidance or his shirk. Then he is a disbeliever. As for [praising for] playing soccer or skillfulness in manufacturing, then in it is venerating the disbeliever and in it is sin. However, it does not reach the level of disbelief”.
[Taken from: Silsilah sharh ul-Rasaail pg. 44]
Faisal Ibn Abdul Qaadir Ibn Hassan