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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Cristiano Ronaldo: Plane protest over sex assault claim


A banner supporting a woman who accused footballer Cristiano Ronaldo of a sex assault has been flown over Old Trafford during his return game for Manchester United.

The Level Up feminist group said they wanted to “remind crowds” of rape allegations against him.

Kathryn Mayorga said she was assaulted by him at a Las Vegas hotel in 2009.

In 2019, US prosecutors said Ronaldo, who denied the claims, would not face charges.

Following the start of the game against Newcastle United, a plane carrying the banner “Believe Kathryn Mayorga” flew overhead.

The Portuguese midfielder scored twice in his first Manchester United match in 12 years, as the Reds won 4-1.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United has drawn global attention

Ms Mayorga reportedly reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo in 2010, involving a £288,000 ($375,000) payment for agreeing never to publicise the allegations.

His lawyers have previously said the non-disclosure agreement was “by no means a confession of guilt”.

They stated that the player was acting on advice “to put an end to the outrageous accusations made against him, precisely to avoid attempts […] to destroy a reputation built through hard work, athletic ability, and behavioural correction.”

Ms Mayorga attempted to reopen the case in 2018, citing the #MeToo movement against sexual violence as inspiration.

The allegations were then investigated by Las Vegas police, who concluded that they “could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt” and thus would not be prosecuted against Ronaldo.

According to the local district attorney’s office, Ms Mayorga reported an assault in 2009 but refused to specify where it occurred or identify the attacker, so police were unable to “conduct any meaningful investigation.”

Level Up said they wanted to “disrupt the fanfare”

Ronaldo has not denied that the two met but said the encounter, when he was about to leave his first Manchester United stint for Real Madrid, was consensual.

In 2018, he tweeted: “I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me. Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in.”

Level Up said they wanted to “disrupt the fanfare” around the player’s heavily-publicised return to Manchester United.

The group’s co-director Janey Starling said they wanted to send “a message to football that rape allegations can’t be kicked off the pitch”.

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