Cristiano Ronaldo was the subject of a fly-by protest during his return for Manchester United on Saturday, relating to longstanding rape allegations first made against him in 2009.
Ronaldo scored twice in the 4-1 win against Newcastle, but not everyone sees his return as triumphant because of the Kathryn Mayorga case.
The banner flown behind a plane over Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon read, ‘#Believe Kathryn Mayorga’. Feminist campaign group Level Up claimed credit for the protest.
Ronaldo was accused of raping Mayorga in the summer of 2009 while in Las Vegas. A sexual assault was reported to the local police department at the time, but the Clark County District Attorney later stated that the victim had refused to confirm the identity of her attacker or where the assault took place, preventing a ‘meaningful investigation’ from being carried out.
In 2010, Ronaldo is believed to have reached an out of court settlement with Mayorga worth $375,000 for a non-disclosure agreement so that she would never go public with the allegations. But the player’s camp and legal team always insisted this was never an admission of guilt.
German publication Der Spiegel reported in 2017 that Ronaldo, who never denied meeting Mayorga but insisted that what happened between them was consensual, was being investigated by Las Vegas police over the incident after Mayorga came forward, inspired by the #MeToo movement.
In 2018, Ronaldo’s lawyer insisted that leaked documents regarding the case had been ‘altered and/or completely fabricated’ and that the media reporting around the subject amounted to an ‘intentional defamation campaign’, with threats of legal action against Der Spiegel.
As of 2019, prosecutors in Las Vegas confirmed they would not be charging Ronaldo over the allegations of rape as they could not be ‘proven beyond reasonable doubt’.
Yet Ronaldo’s critics believe that justice has not been served, which was the reason for the ‘#Believe Kathryn Mayorga’ banner flown over Old Trafford on Saturday.