Soccer journalist Chris Lierly details the latest allegations against the Juventus player.
There were major developments in both the Premier League and the Champion’s League last week. United’s board of directors backed Mourinho, Bayern and Real Madrid are struggling, and Liverpool stumbled running the gauntlet. But one story should take precedence over these: on Wednesday Oct. 3, Kathryn Mayorga, a Nevada woman, accused soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo of sexual assault.
Mayorga says that in the summer of 2009, Ronaldo raped her in the penthouse of a Las Vegas hotel. The German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that Ronaldo hired fixers to pay her off and keep her quiet. 2009 was the same summer that Ronaldo transferred from Manchester United to Real Madrid. Mayorga’s lawyers filed a lawsuit containing the allegation on Sept. 27 of this year. The suit also claims that Mayorga received $375,000 from Ronaldo as payment for signing a non-disclosure agreement in 2010, and that the mental trauma induced from the rape left her “incompetent to participate in the negotiations.”
The civil suit detailing both the sexual assault and the hush money has been out for three days, but Der Spiegel reported on the non-disclosure agreement back in the spring. After the lawsuit, the German paper released further reports that Ronaldo immediately denied. The Portuguese forward labeled the lawsuit “fake news” and claimed that “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.”
This summer, Ronaldo transferred from Real Madrid to Italian club Juventus. Unsurprisingly, Juventus stands behind their newly acquired star. In a string of misguided tweets, they used Ronaldo’s accomplishments as proof that he could not have raped Mayorga, which were seen as highly insensitive. Public outrage followed the tone-deaf tweets and Juventus’ stock price dropped by 10 percent in less than a week. However, Juventus is not the only company financially connected to Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been the cover athlete of EA’s best-selling videogame FIFA for the last two years, but now he has been deemphasized in FIFA 19’s design. EA did not drop him, but citing fears over the allegations, they have replaced a giant image of Ronaldo wearing a Juventus shirt with a generic teal design for the loading screen. They have also replaced a large image of him on their website with a stock photo of four guys playing FIFA. Another sponsor tied to Ronaldo, Nike, said they are “concerned” about the allegations but have yet to take any action.
Following Mayorga’s lawsuit, the Las Vegas Police Department has reopened the investigation after closing the case in 2009. In response, Ronaldo’s lawyer denied the allegation and claimed that he has “complete faith in the justice system.” Though it is unclear whether criminal charges will be brought against Ronaldo, the chances of Portugal extraditing their favorite son will be slim.
However, all of this proves that the mountains are moving. Ronaldo is maybe the biggest sports star in the world, and has played for the biggest clubs in England, Spain and Italy. Still, his sponsors feel the public pressure that they never would have only a few years ago. Kathryn Mayorga said that she was influenced to make the claim public, among other reasons, because of the #MeToo movement. She directly pointed to the survivors who have come forward with their stories in the past few months, empowering one another in a great moment of solidarity.