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The rape allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo

The rape allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo


Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United was greeted with huge fanfare. But it overlooks a dark chapter in his past.


Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.

One story every day to make sense of the world of football. 

Today… the allegations of rape that still hang over Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Cristiano Ronaldo has made a sensational return to Manchester United. Straight to you Kaveh… goodness me, this has happened so quickly… what have Manchester United said now?”

“Well look, they’ve announced in the last few minutes that they have re-signed Cristiano Ronaldo. I think the message they have put up on social media has broken the internet. This is incredible news for Manchester United.”

Sky Sports News

When Cristiano Ronaldo left Turin airport heading towards Manchester, the internet went wild. 

The rumour was, he was going from Juventus to Manchester City. It turned out that he was actually re-joining his former club… Manchester United. 

The world’s most marketable footballer was joining one of the most marketable football teams on the planet. 

Fans were following the transfer saga, minute-by-minute.

On paper, United made millions just from the hysteria that surrounded the return of Ronaldo. 

Their stock price rose by almost 10% on that day.

This is a player who has more Instagram followers than all of the Premier League clubs combined.

As a brand, Ronaldo is by far the most lucrative for any football club to have on board.

But it’s easy to forget that a serious accusation of rape, vehemently denied by Ronaldo, still hangs over his head.

Ronaldo is still the subject of a civil lawsuit over an allegation of rape. The accuser is an American woman named Kathryn Mayorga. 

Paparazzi photos show Mayorga standing close to Ronaldo and talking with him in the VIP section of the Rain nightclub in Las Vegas.

The incident itself is said to have taken place in a nearby hotel. When it allegedly happened in 2009, he’d just moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid. 

Yet, the following year, he paid Mayorga $375,000 in an out-of-court settlement. That was in return for her ceasing to cooperate with the Las Vegas police and signing a non-disclosure agreement – an NDA as it’s known. 

The police investigation was terminated. Ronaldo must have thought that the matter had gone away. 

It hadn’t. 

In September 2018, Kathryn Mayorga ignored the agreement she’d signed, and broke her silence. 

She said she only agreed to the NDA because she was afraid for herself and her family at the time. 

So the Las Vegas Police department reopened their case.

And two months later, the German magazine Der Spiegel published documents obtained by the Football Leaks investigation. 

Der Spiegel reports that answers supposedly provided by Ronaldo within a 27 page document – provided to him by his lawyers when they were attempting to build a picture of what happened that night – could be read as his confirming that she “kept saying no”, and that he apologised after the alleged incident.

Ronaldo denies these claims, and in response to the Der Spiegel publication his legal team say these documents were stolen by hackers, with significant portions of them altered or fabricated. 

But as yet there’s been no legal challenge to the claims made by Der Spiegel and their allegations remain publicly available to read online.

“He’s one of the most famous soccer players in the world, worth over 400 million dollars for his moves on the field, and for fronting brands like Nike, underwear companies and tech giants. But this morning Cristiano Ronaldo is speaking out, after being accused of sexual assault.”

“Nah, no, no, no, no. What they say today, is fake, fake news.”

ABC News/Cristiano Ronaldo Instagram

Right now, Ronaldo is still the subject of a civil lawsuit in Nevada issued by Kathryn Mayorga and her lawyer. The judge presiding over the case will rule on whether she was mentally fit to sign a confidentiality agreement at the time. 

The Las Vegas Police Department have shelved the case as it “could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt.” But if Ronaldo sets foot in the USA, he could well face some uncomfortable questions.  

Real Madrid went on a tour of the US in the pre-season before the 2017/18 campaign. They didn’t take Ronaldo with them. 

The official line was that he was still on holiday, but you can make your own mind up over why they would willingly leave their most valuable marketing asset behind.

Ronaldo moved to Juventus the following season. They avoided the US altogether, playing their International Champions Cup fixtures – usually held in America – exclusively in Asia.

And while his case is arguably the most high profile, he’s not the only footballer to be subject to similar allegations.

Just this week, Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy was remanded in custody, accused of four counts of rape and one count of sexual assault. 

The club have issued a statement to say they are unable to comment during an ongoing legal process. 

“Is Benjamin Mendy fit for tomorrow?”

“Erm… yeah.”

“I don’t know if you are aware but there’s video footage of him er… in a nightclub in Manchester at 3.30am on Saturday. And I know he wasn’t part of the squad going down to Fulham, but for a player recovering from injury, who has had persistent injuries… are you happy with that? To see a player…”

“They are old enough, they are old enough to know what they have to do. I’m not his father.”

Pep Guardiola addressing the media

Benjamin Mendy was first arrested last November.

So Manchester City would’ve been faced with a decision about whether or not he could carry on playing. And he did play on.

His last match was on August 15 versus Tottenham and he was formally charged 11 days later.

As last week’s Ronaldo-related rise in the Manchester United stock price shows, these footballers are extremely valuable assets. 

But that could mean that a high monetary value may be driving clubs to try to play down allegations made off the pitch. 

And that’s really not helping anyone.

Today’s episode was written by me, Chloe Beresford, and produced by Klong.