Nike ‘deeply concerned’ about Ronaldo
AMERICAN sporting goods giant Nike said on Thursday (local time) the company was "deeply concerned" by rape allegations surrounding star client Cristiano Ronaldo.
"We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation," a Nike spokesman said to AFP.
Portugal and Juventus star Ronaldo - who has denied the allegations against him, dating from an incident in 2009 - signed a lifetime endorsement deal with Nike in 2016.
According to Forbes magazine, Ronaldo is one of only three athletes to have been given a lifetime deal with Nike, joining an elite club whose other members are NBA icons LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
Las Vegas police announced this week they were reopening a rape case after allegations made by a former model, Kathryn Mayorga, went public.
Mayorga, 34, has accused Ronaldo of raping her in a Las Vegas hotel suite on June 13, 2009.
On Wednesday the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star denied the allegation, describing rape as "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," Ronaldo said on Twitter.
"My clear conscious (sic) will thereby allow me to await with tranquillity the results of any and all investigations," he added.
Ronaldo had been left out of Portugal's next four internationals, the national coach Fernando Santos said on Thursday, days after rape allegations against the Juventus star resurfaced.
Santos told a press conference that he and the president of the Portuguese Football Federation, Fernando Gomes, talked to Ronaldo and "we agreed that the player was not available for this or the next call-up".
"I will not reveal the details of the conversation we three had," said Santos when pressed by reporters.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner missed the two internationals Portugal played in September.
At the time, Santos suggested that the 33-year-old's absence was temporary and intended to help the star attacker adapt after his move from Real Madrid to Juventus.
"This is not what I am saying now," Santos said on Thursday when asked if the explanation was the same.
Asked about the allegations, Santos defended the player. "I know Cristiano Ronaldo very well and I fully believe his word when he says he would never commit a crime like this."
Earlier Gomes also spoke up for Ronaldo.
"I believe what he said … because I've known Ronaldo for many years and I can attest to his good character," Gomes said.
Ronaldo, Portugal's captain, will miss three Nations League games, against Poland on October 11 and against Italy and Poland in November and a friendly against Scotland later this month.