There’s a dulled quality to one of football’s brightest stars. Cristiano Ronaldo has been left out of Portugal’s squad for upcoming friendlies against Poland and Scotland owing to allegations that he raped Kathryn Mayorga in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. The accusations are serious enough, but the decision to omit him from the squad is also significant as he is currently squad captain.
Ronaldo released a statement on Wednesday denying the charges, which allege that the Juventus star raped Mayorga while she repeatedly screamed no, according to a lawsuit filed in Clark County, Nevada, last week. Las Vegas police have re-opened the complaint made by Mayorga, who is said to be suffering “psychological” damage from the incident.
He’s tackling the accusations with an uncharacteristic amount of zen-like calm, adding that:
Meanwhile Portuguese Football Federation president Fernando Gomes has given his “total solidarity” towards Ronaldo as “his good name and reputation are being questioned. I believe in the words issue yesterday, not only because I defend the presumption of innocent as a basic principle of a state of law, but also because I have known Ronaldo for many years and I am a witness to his good character,” said Gomes in a statement.
Attorney Larissa Drohobyczer of Stovall & Associates, the law firm representing Mayorga, told reporters in Las Vegas on Wednesday that her client shows signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a psychiatrist hired by Stovall. Mayorga’s lawsuit accuses Ronaldo and his team of taking advantage of Mayorga’s fragile emotional state to coerce her into signing a settlement and nondisclosure agreement in 2009.
She claims she received US$375,000 in exchange for her silence. Her lawsuit seeks to void the settlement and agreement. “We believe we have the factual basis to ask the court to set aside the agreement so we can litigate … for damages,” Leslie Stovall, Mayorga’s co-counsel, said at the news conference.
The reasons Mayorga went public with the incident are printed on the press release distributed at the press conference. One of the reasons stated is that she wanted to “publicize how “fixers” cover up and enable sexual assaults by the wealthy and famous.” And if what she alleges is true, we are left to wonder how many crimes of a similar nature are perpetrated by the rich and powerful without a hint of them ever becoming public knowledge.
Big name sponsors Nike and video game developer Electronic Arts (EA) have expressed concern over these allegations, however they have not ended their partnership with him yet, which, after all this, may be a possibility. It won’t be the first time sponsors have dropped athletes who have behaved badly – think Lance Armstrong for one of the biggest doping cover-ups in cycling history, Oscar Pistorius, who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013 and more recently, swimmer Ryan Lochte for fabricating a false story about being kidnapped and robbed during the Rio 2016 Olympics.
In a statement to Reuters, Nike said that “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation.” Nike and Ronaldo go way back – they’ve worked together since 2003 and in 2016, Nike announced a lifetime deal with the football megastar. The future of that partnership is now in jeopardy as Ronaldo battles with these allegations.
EA had this to say about the ongoing case: “We have seen the concerning report that details allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo. 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.” It’s not looking good for Ronaldo who has graced the cover of the last two FIFA football games.
Ronaldo hasn’t played for Portugal since its defeat to Uruguay at the World Cup, missing games against Italy and Croatia in September. He is next due to play for his club Juventus against Udinese on Saturday. He missed Tuesday’s Champions League victory over Young Boys following his red card against Valencia. Portugal are due to face Poland on 11 October and Scotland three days later.
Source: CNN International, CNBC, The Guardian, Reuters