Club and country have supported “great champion” Cristiano Ronaldo in the wake of a rape allegation made against him, but Nike has declared itself “deeply concerned” by the claim.
Juventus reached out to Ronaldo – their star summer signing and one of the most marketable brands on the planet – applauding his “professionalism and dedication”.
That came after Portugal coach Fernando Santos backed his captain, saying he believed the 33-year-old after his strong denial over the allegation he sexually assaulted a women in the United States in 2009.
US sportswear firm Nike, however, which reportedly has a £768million deal with Ronaldo, said in a statement to the Press Association that it is “deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations” and “will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
Juventus have already made their position clear, saying, on the same day that Santos said the 154-cap forward would not return to international football until 2019: “Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus.
“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.”
Santos, quoted on the website of Portuguese sports newspaper O Jogo, said: “I personally always support my players and here it is not even a question of solidarity, I believe what the player said publicly, he considers (rape) an abject act and clearly reaffirms that he is innocent of what he is being accused of.
“There was a conversation with the player, the president of the federation (Fernando Gomes) and I. We agreed that the player would not be in these two call-ups, this and the next one in November.”
He added on the national team’s Twitter feed: “In the future, nothing prevents Cristiano from giving his contribution to the national team.”
Ronaldo is being sued by a woman in the US, who claims he assaulted her in the penthouse suite of a Las Vegas hotel.
She also alleges the former Manchester United player dispatched a team of “fixers” to obstruct the criminal investigation and trick her into keeping quiet for 375,000 US dollars (£268,000).
Ronaldo has firmly denied the allegations, saying it “goes against everything that I am and believe in”.
Speaking to reporters in Nevada on Wednesday, lawyer Leslie Stovall said the woman suffers depression and post-traumatic stress linked to the alleged incident, but was encouraged to launch legal action after seeing others do the same as part of the #MeToo movement.
Attorney Leslie Stovall addresses the media about rape allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo (John Locher/AP)
Portugal will play Poland in the Nations League before a friendly against Scotland in Glasgow on October 14.
Among Portugal’s forwards for the international double-header are Eder, who scored the winner in the Euro 2016 final against France, and Wolves’ Helder Costa who receives a first senior call-up.
“Eder was always being observed and this time we felt he should be called up,” Santos added.
“The players are very motivated to play these matches for the national team.
“Right now we are in a positive position in the Nations League and with victory we will take an important step.”