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Juventus backs Ronaldo amid rape claims, Nike 'concerned'

Friday October 5, 2018

Sponsors for Cristiano Ronaldo have said they are "concerned" by rape accusations against the soccer superstar. Italian champions Juventus, however, have supported their player, praising him as a "great champion."

A poster of Ronaldo with an EA logo (Imago/M. Kolvenbach)
Two major sponsors, Nike and EA Sports, have expressed concern about the conduct of Cristiano Ronaldo as their star client faces allegations of rape.

"We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation," Nike said in a statement on Thursday.

Ronaldo, one of the world's most famous football players, has a contract to advertise Nike and wear their gear on the field. His latest deal with the sports company, struck in 2016, was reportedly worth $1 billion (€868 million).

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The athlete is also the face of FIFA video games, produced by EA Sports. Ronaldo's image and likeness are featured in the top-selling series.

The US-based company has also pledged to monitor the situation, adding that it expected its athletes "conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with EA's values."

The 33-year-old Ronaldo has strongly denied claims that he sexually assaulted an American woman in 2009.

'Great champion'

His football club, Juventus, broke its silence on Thursday and strongly backed the Portuguese-born athlete.

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

"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," they added.

Ronaldo transferred from Real Madrid to Juventus earlier this year in a €100-million ($115-million) deal.

Italy's top team also posted a video of Ronaldo scoring goals during practice, ahead of a Saturday game against Udinese.


At the same time, however, Ronaldo has been sidelined from the Portuguese national team for at least four international games. National coach Fernando Santos announced the decision on Thursday after a conversation with Ronaldo and Portuguese Football Federation head Fernando Gomes.

Santos said Ronaldo "won't be an option for selection," but refused to provide details about the discussion. Later, Santos suggested the player's absence would be temporary.

"In the future, nothing prevents Cristiano from giving his contribution to the national team," he said.

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