Juventus criticized for tweets backing ‘great champion’ Ronaldo as player fights rape claims
Juventus have faced a backlash for issuing their support for “great champion” Cristiano Ronaldo amid rape allegations against the Portugal star – as sponsors including Nike expressed “deep concern” over the claims.
In two tweets on Thursday, Turin giants Juve issued their support for the player they signed for €100 million in the summer, praising Ronaldo for his “great professionalism and dedication.”
The club added that the allegations against Ronaldo – made by American Kathryn Mayorga, who claims the player anally raped her in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009 – “do not change” their opinion of the forward.
.@Cristiano Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus. 1/1— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) October 4, 2018
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. 2/2— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) October 4, 2018
The tweets from Juventus in support of their star man were ‘liked’ more than 6,000 times each, although some – including ex-England striker and high-profile pundit Gary Lineker – criticized the club for appearing to miss the point.
Whatever the legal outcome, this is awful from Juventus: pic.twitter.com/3ZDNkscTdx— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 5, 2018
PHEW! If the allegations are true & he's a rapist, then it's good to know he's a polite and well liked rapist.— Tudobohm (@AbominableLint) October 4, 2018
Good grief but this is a bad angle to take.— Patrick O'Shea (@poshea84) October 4, 2018
Don't think it's helpful to offer opinions on serious allegations - particularly on social media - but that Juventus statement is abhorrent.'Allegations do not change our opinion that he is a great champion' - this is bigger than sporting achievement, for goodness sake.— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) October 4, 2018
Others backed the Serie A champions, however, saying they were merely following the line of “innocent until proven guilty” and carrying out their “duty of care” as Ronaldo’s employer.
Why exactly? If it was one of our employees we would support them and trust their version of events until proven otherwise. Isn’t that a duty of care as an employer?— Kevin Curran (@kevincurran65) October 4, 2018
Shouldn't they stand with their player until facts come out. What happened to innocent until proven guilty.? If it's true he deserves to be punished to the fullest extent but if not his name, reputation and family is tarnished.....let's look at it both ways for once— joe acquista (@Joeytrattoria) October 4, 2018
why should they? they're supporting their player who is innocent until proven otherwise— scorervic (@scorervic) October 4, 2018
Ronaldo has not received similar backing from sponsors, including long-time partners Nike, with whom the 33-year-old has a lifetime deal reportedly worth up to $1 billion.
The US sportswear giant issued a statement on Thursday saying it was “deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
Video games company EA Sports, which features Ronaldo on the cover of its new FIFA 19 game, issued a similar statement, telling AP it was “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 has categorically denied the allegations, calling them “fake news” and posting a tweet on Wednesday in which he said rape was “an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in.”
I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me. 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.— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) October 3, 2018
My clear conscious will thereby allow me to await with tranquillity the results of any and all investigations.— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) October 3, 2018
Mayorga, 34, says that Ronaldo sexually assaulted her in a Las Vegas suite in June of 2009 after a night spent partying, and claims later paid her $375,000 in hush money.
German news outlet Der Spiegel reported last week that Mayorga was seeking to declare the alleged non-disclosure agreement void, as she has continued to suffer trauma over the alleged incident and has been emboldened by the MeToo movement.
Las Vegas police confirmed this week that they have reopened the investigation into the case.
Ronaldo was not named in the Portugal squad yesterday for the upcoming friendlies against Poland and Scotland, and may not feature for the national team until next March, although it was not indicated whether his absence is linked to the allegations.