Nike ‘deeply concerned’ by rape allegations facing Ronaldo
Juventus hail record signing as ‘great champion’ after American woman files lawsuit
A billboard shows Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo advertising Nike sportswear in the Moscow suburb of Timiryazevskaya during the World Cup in Russia. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Nike has said it is “deeply concerned” after an investigation into a rape allegation against Cristiano Ronaldo was reopened this week while the 33-year-old’s club, Juventus, has faced a barrage of criticism on social media after issuing a tweet in support of “a great champion”.
The US sportswear firm, with whom the player has a reported £768m endorsement deal, said: “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
The forward, Juventus’s €112m record signing, has strenuously denied accusations made by Kathryn Mayorga that she was raped by him in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. This week the Las Vegas police force announced they would be returning to the case after Mayorga went public with her claims in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel.
On Thursday, Juventus tweeted: “Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus. The events allegedly dating back to almost 10 years ago do not change this opinion, which is shared by anyone who has come into contact with this great champion.”
EA Sports, which also has a contract with Ronaldo, made similar comments to Nike, saying: “We are closely monitoring the situation, as we expect cover athletes and ambassadors to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with EA’s values.”
Ronaldo, who captained Portugal to victory in the 2016 European Championship, was left out of the national side’s 23-man squad by Fernando Santos on Thursday for the Nations League fixture against Poland on 11 October and a friendly against Scotland three days later.
The 33-year-old was also missing from the last Portugal squad, with Santos citing the player’s summer move to the Italian champions as the reason. Ronaldo played for Juventus in Serie A on Saturday but missed the midweek Champions League fixture against Young Boys after being sent off in the previous fixture against Valencia.
Santos, quoted on the website of Portuguese sports newspaper O Jogo, said: “I personally always support my players and here it is not even a question of solidarity, I believe what the player said publicly, he considers [RAPE]an abject act and clearly reaffirms that he is innocent of what he is being accused of.
“There was a conversation with the player, the president of the federation [Fernando Gomes] and I. We agreed that the player would not be in these two call-ups, this and the next one in November.”
He added on the national team’s Twitter feed: “In the future, nothing prevents Cristiano from giving his contribution to the national team.”
Lawyers for Mayorga have this week sued Ronaldo in a district court in Clark County, Nevada, and on Wednesday gave a press conference in which they said the Portugal forward had 20 days from the filing of the lawsuit to respond.
Mayorga was not at the conference and her lawyers claimed the alleged assault had caused her severe mental and emotional damage.
“She has decided not to make herself available to the media and stay out of the public because of her emotional state,” attorney Leslie Stovall said. “It is not pleasant for her.”
Her lawyers added they were considering whether to release documents they say relate to the case, including police reports, medical records and an out-of-court settlement that apparently included a non-disclosure agreement about the incident.
They claimed that a psychiatrist had determined she suffers post-traumatic stress and depression because of the alleged 2009 attack in Las Vegas.
Ronaldo issued a vehement denial of the accusations on Twitter. “I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me,” he said. “Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in. Keen as I may be to clear my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense.
“My clear conscious [sic] will thereby allow me to await with tranquillity the results of any and all investigations.” – Guardian service