Soccer: Juventus Defends Cristiano Ronaldo Over Rape Allegations

Italy’s Juventus has defended player Cristiano Ronaldo, saying the 2009 rape allegation from an American woman has not changed the club’s opinion of the striker.

Ronaldo joined Juventus in July, transferring from Real Madrid in a deal that cost the Italian club 112 million euros.

“Cristiano Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus,” the club said on its official Twitter account.

“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.”

A lawsuit against the Portuguese forward was filed in a Nevada state court by a woman who claimed that she was raped by Ronaldo in a Las Vegas hotel in 2009.

Ronaldo denied the accusations on Wednesday. “Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in,” said Ronaldo. “My clear conscious [sic] will thereby allow me to await with tranquillity the results of any and all investigations.”

The football club has received backlash on social media for its statement supporting Ronaldo, with critics calling it “tone-deaf” and “insensitive”.

Juventus’s public backing came after sponsors Nike and EA Sports raised their concern over the allegation. Nike has sponsored Ronaldo since 2003, with the latest contracts signed in 2016 reportedly being worth US$1 billion. The apparel company broke its silence in a statement to the Associated Press: “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

EA Sports, which features Ronaldo as the face of its FIFA video game franchise, also released a similar statement to the AP. “We have seen the concerning report that details allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo,” said EA Sports. “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.”