Ju­ven­tus sup­ports Ron­aldo but Nike ‘deeply con­cerned’ by rape al­le­ga­tions

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ITAL­IAN cham­pi­ons Ju­ven­tus on Thurs­day, Oc­to­ber 4, said rape al­le­ga­tions against Cris­tiano Ron­aldo do not change their opin­ion of their su­per­star player, but US sportswear gi­ant Nike said it was “deeply con­cerned.”

The Por­tuguese striker “has shown in re­cent months his great pro­fes­sion­al­ism and ded­i­ca­tion, which is ap­pre­ci­ated by ev­ery­one at Ju­ven­tus,” the team said on Twit­ter, break­ing their si­lence over the claims made by an Amer­i­can model.

“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.”

Ju­ven­tus later posted a video on Youtube and Twit­ter show­ing Ron­aldo work­ing up a sweat as he trained with his team­mates at the team’s Con­ti­nassa cen­tre in Turin for Satur­day’s league game against Udi­nese.

“Ju­ven­tus go for goal. Cris­tiano Ron­aldo finds the tar­get!” read the cap­tion be­side the video.

The de­fend­ing Serie A cham­pi­ons’ tweets were widely panned on so­cial me­dia as “shock­ingly dis­mis­sive and in­sen­si­tive.”

The player’s pow­er­ful com­mer­cial back­ers, in­clud­ing Nike, also ex­pressed fears over the con­tro­versy.

“We are deeply con­cerned by the dis­turb­ing al­le­ga­tions and will con­tinue to closely mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion,” a Nike spokesman told AFP.

Ac­cord­ing to Forbes mag­a­zine, Ron­aldo is one of only three ath­letes to have been given a life­time deal with Nike, join­ing an elite club also in­clud­ing NBA icons Lebron James and Michael Jor­dan.

EA Sports, for whom Ron­aldo is a lead­ing fig­ure in their phe­nom­e­nally suc­cess­ful FIFA video game mar­ket, also de­scribed the al­le­ga­tions as “con­cern­ing.”

“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,” the group said in a state­ment.

The rape al­le­ga­tions have threat­ened the rep­u­ta­tion of one of the world’s best and highly-paid foot­ballers, with Las Ve­gas po­lice this week say­ing they would re­open their file on the case.

The star de­nies ac­cu­sa­tions by for­mer model Kathryn May­orga that he raped her in a Las Ve­gas ho­tel in June 2009 and said his con­science is clear.

“Rape is an abom­inable crime that goes against ev­ery­thing that I am and be­lieve in,” said Ron­aldo on his Twit­ter feed @Cris­tiano, which has nearly 75 mil­lion fol­low­ers.

“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,” he added.

But lawyers for 34year-old May­orga hit back, say­ing their client had been “very con­sis­tent” in her re­port­ing of the al­leged in­ci­dent, the de­tails of which have been set out in a 32-page law­suit filed last month with a district court in Ne­vada.

May­orga’s at­tor­ney Les­lie Sto­vall told re­porters his client had suf­fered years of trauma as a re­sult of the al­leged at­tack and found the courage to speak out thanks to the #Metoo move­ment against sex­ual ha­rass­ment and as­sault at the hands of pow­er­ful men.

May­orga claims she was pres­sured into sign­ing a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment in 2010 to keep the al­leged rape se­cret and is seek­ing at least $200,000 in penal­ties and da­m­ages.

Ron­aldo, 33, has been left out of Por­tu­gal’s next 4 in­ter­na­tion­als, na­tional coach Fer­nando San­tos said ear­lier Thurs­day.

Ron­aldo, a fa­ther of 4 who ini­tially made his name in the game dur­ing a six-year spell at Manch­ester United, trans­ferred to Ju­ven­tus from Real Madrid in the sum­mer in a 100-mil­lion-euro ($115 mil­lion) deal./ rap­pler.com

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