Ronaldo's Comeback Marked by Activist Sky Banner in Support of Rape Allegations
© REUTERS / PHIL NOBLEManchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their second goal
© REUTERS / PHIL NOBLE
Kathryn Mayorga, whose name was inscribed on a strip of letters, claimed rape just hours after meeting Ronaldo in Las Vegas in June 2009. Las Vegas police concluded a criminal investigation in 2019, stating that the allegation could not be "proven beyond a reasonable doubt." A civil suit continues, however.
A rape allegation in the sky above Old Trafford stadium marked Cristiano Ronaldo's second debut with Manchester United on Saturday.
As he came from the tunnel, a sold-out crowd chanted the Portuguese player's name, anticipating his second appearance for the club following his $27 million transfer from Juventus last month.
For much of the first half, a plane, reportedly organized by the feminist Level Up group, circled the stadium shortly after Ronaldo's entrance. The plane flew over the stadium, trailing a banner that read 'believe Kathryn Mayorga,' referring to current lawsuit in the US against the sports superstar.
In a tweet about the campaign, the activist group said that the purpose of this action was to "say NO to the culture of silence around abuse from the football community."
Ronaldo appeared unfazed by the protest, scoring two goals in his comeback game, leading The Reds to a 4-1 victory against Newcastle.
US citizen Mayorga, 37, claimed Ronaldo raped her in Las Vegas in 2009, asking that the case be reopened in 2018. The football star has consistently refuted the allegations. According to reports, however, the Portuguese striker paid Mayorga a 336,000 euro settlement (about $396,000) as part of a contract to purchase Mayorga's silence.
In 2018, he said that "rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in."
Last week, Natacha Rodrigues, a reality TV star who claims she spent one night with Ronaldo before he entirely removed her from his life, warned the footballer's long-time partner Georgina Rodriguez that the same thing may happen to her. However, in the same interview with UK media, she stressed that she hoped the football star and his loved one "stay together and stay in love."