Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

A name synonymous with the game of soccer itself, prolific Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo has dazzled millions of fans worldwide during his tenures at Sporting Clube de Portugal, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus. Ronaldo’s notorious reputation as a clinical scorer and free kick taker has been recognized by many institutions, with a record-tying five Ballon d’Or awards (shared with Lionel Messi, the only two people to win this annual award since 2008), and is the first player to win four European Golden Shoes. During his career, Ronaldo has secured 26 trophies and titles, including five league titles, five UEFA Champions League titles and one UEFA European Championship. In total, Ronaldo has scored 680 senior career goals for club and country.

Ronaldo’s off-the-pitch reputation has now become just as infamous as that one, after American elementary school teacher, Kathryn Mayorga, brought forth her highly-credible sexual assault story at the hands of the Juventus player in an article published by Der Spiegel magazine in September 2018. Meeting at a Las Vegas nightclub in 2009, the two individuals went to Ronaldo’s penthouse in Hotel Palms Place. Der Spiegel claims that following this interaction, all that is “clear is that the soccer star paid Mayorga $375,000 a few months later as part of an out-of-court settlement. In exchange, Mayorga signed an agreement to never talk about her accusations that Cristiano Ronaldo had raped her.” In the spring of 2017, Der Spiegel located the non-disclosure agreement signed by Ronaldo and Mayorga following the monetary settlement.

Since the Der Spiegel article, Las Vegas police have reopened the rape investigation against Ronaldo, which includes mounting evidence against him. This includes a rape kit collected following the event and a leaked interview with Ronaldo’s lawyers in which he states “she said no and stop several times … I entered her from behind. It was rude. We didn’t change position. 5/7 minutes. She said that she didn’t want to, but she made herself available … But she kept saying ‘No.’ ‘Don’t do it.’ ‘I’m not like the others.’ I apologized afterwards” (which Ronaldo’s lawyers now claim was altered by hackers).

The soccer world’s response to the 2009 incident and its recent resurfacing expose a concerning mentality regarding rape. The Italian club Juventus, which just signed Ronaldo in a move from Real Madrid during the summer 2018 transfer period, tweeted in support of the club’s new forward, writing “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.” In a recent development, it was claimed by a Portuguese news outlet that in 2009, both Manchester United and Real Madrid knew of the rape, and forced Ronaldo to settle. Real is now seeking legal action against the paper, which it claims is attempting to “seriously damage the image of this club.”

Ronaldo’s future remains unclear as the allegations against him continue to develop, while Mayorga seeks only justice for her assault, which has taken years to process.

Benjamin Popp is a third-year student double majoring in history and Latin with minors in civic and professional leadership and anthropology.

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