TW // sexual violence
A banner supporting a woman who accused footballer Cristiano Ronaldo of sexual assault was 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 and “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”.
The banner above the Manchester United stadium read “Believe Kathryn Mayorga”.
Kathryn Mayorga accused Ronaldo of assaulting her at a Las Vegas hotel in 2009. In 2019, US prosecutors said Ronaldo, who denied the claims, would not face charges. Mayorga reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo in 2010, receiving £288,000 ($375,000) payment in return for her silence. In 2018, Ms Mayorga sought to reopen the case, with her lawyer saying she had been inspired by the #MeToo movement against sexual violence.
The German magazine Der Spiegel was leaked the non-disclosure agreement by Football Leaks. The document contains a version of how Ronaldo experienced that night, including the following quote: “She said no and stop several times.” Las Vegas police, who then investigated the allegations, said they “cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt” and therefore they would not press charges against Ronaldo. A local district attorney’s office said Ms Mayorga reported an assault in 2009, but refused to state where it had happened or name the attacker, so police were unable “to conduct any meaningful investigation”. Ronaldo claims the sexual contact, when he was about to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid, was consensual.
Mayorga was also interviewed by Der Spiegel staff. “Basically he... he begged me to touch his penis for 30 seconds”. “When I wouldn’t touch it, he begged me to suck it. Like, what an idiot!... I was laughing at him because I thought, ‘Is this a joke?’ This guy that is so famous and so hot ... he’s a frickin’ loser and a creep.”
But Ronaldo wouldn’t be put off. “He was like, ‘I’ll let you go if you give me a kiss.’ I said, ‘OK, I’ll kiss you, but I’m not going to touch your nasty penis’… He starts to come on to me very strong. And he starts to do stuff to me and touch me and grab me and go down on me. I pushed him away and kept saying ‘No”.
“He tried to take my underwear off. I turned away from him and curled up into a ball. And I was holding my vagina. And that’s when he jumped on me.” She says she said “no, no, no, no”. Ronaldo, Kathryn Mayorga claims, raped her anally. Without a condom or lubricant.
“After he assaulted me, he wouldn’t let me leave again. He wouldn’t let me leave. And he was calling me ‘baby, baby.’ He gave me this look, this guilty look. Almost like he felt bad. I don’t remember but I’m pretty sure he said ‘sorry’ or ‘Are you hurt?’ And by this time, he’s... on his knees. He says the 99 per cent thing.”
He insisted, she says, that he was “a good guy” except for the “one per cent”.