Nike’s unfortunate lack of sensitivity has inflamed an already difficult situation surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s alleged 2009 rape of a woman named Kathryn Mayorga.
‘Ronaldo was quoted in legal documents published by German publication Der Spiegel as saying “she said no and stop several times” about Mayorga on the night she claims he raped her,’ The Times reports.
However, to celebrate his return to Manchester United, the player’s personal sponsors Nike have plastered a huge banner along the side of Hotel Football with an image of Ronaldo and the words ‘Just do it. Again.’
‘The official Nike Football Twitter account raised eyebrows when it posted the image with the caption: “And again. And again. And again. And again.” At best, it was ill-conceived,’ The Times notes.
The stunt coincides with the flying of a plane over Old Trafford by a feminist group called ‘Level Up’. The plane carried a banner saying ‘#Believe Kathryn Mayorga’.
The group’s spokesperson told the Times that ‘One of the world’s most famous athletes has been accused of rape, but there has been almost universal silence.
‘Manchester United have not acknowledged that there are unresolved rape allegations against Ronaldo, and are giving him a hero’s welcome. As a society, we can’t let a woman’s story of rape be silenced.’
United have not commented on the issue and are unlikely to do so.
The criminal case against the United star was dropped years ago without any charges being made, but the civil case continues.
Mayorga is suing Ronaldo for £50 million in damages.
In 2010, an out-of-court settlement and confidentiality agreement was reached following mediation.
Ronaldo pledged to pay Mayorga $375,000 (£272,000] and read a letter that she had written to him. Mayorga in return agreed to maintain strict confidentiality about the issue.
However, she later came to regret the settlement and decided to again pursue a civil case.
It is a delicate situation and Nike’s poor judgement in their choice of publicity materials this week has unnecessarily fanned the flames, enraged feminist campaigners and drawn attention to a situation that Ronaldo would clearly prefer to put behind him.