Nike is making headlines after debuting a banner starring soccer player and accused rapist Cristiano Ronaldo with the words “Just Do It Again”.
The poorly timed banner appeared on the side of Hotel Football and arrived just before feminist group Level Up flew a banner saying, “#Believe Kathryn Mayorga” over football ground, Old Trafford, during Ronaldo’s first match playing for Manchester United.
☄️ We flew a plane over the Man United football ground and our message is simple: Believe Kathryn Mayorga.
— Level Up (@we_level_up) September 11, 2021
Level Up’s banner was in reference to Katheryn Mayorga accusing the soccer star of rape in 2009.
Before Level Up’s now-viral stunt, the feminist group had already called Nike out on Twitter, for its new banner.
The official Nike Football Twitter page linked to Ronaldo’s new billboard with the seemingly tone-deaf caption, “And Again. And Again. And Again. And Again.”
Level Up replied with, “Is this a sick joke?” Nike did not reply.
— Level Up (@we_level_up) September 10, 2021
Janey Starling, co-director of Level Up told The Times, “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.”
The stunt by Level Up seems to have worked. with many publications now writing about the ongoing case between Ronaldo and his alleged victim. The attention comes amidst Katheryn Mayorga’s civil case against Ronaldo, Mayorga accused Ronaldo of rape way back in 2009.
A criminal case was dropped because the police found there was inefficient evidence to go forward, it was labelled as a, ‘he said/she said,’ case. This is a common issue that victims of rape face, when trying to seek legal justice.
Ultimately Mayorga and Ronaldo reached an out of court settlement, however, Mayorga is now suing the soccer player for over £50 million in damages.
Ronaldo has publicly denied the allegations by Mayorga and has seemingly not been penalised because of the allegations. Forbes, reported in 2021 that Ronaldo is the third highest-paid athlete in the world and Ronaldo still has many highly lucrative endorsement and sponsorship deals, Tag Heuer, Clear Haircare and he is sponsored by Nike.
Nike and Ronaldo have worked together for years, and according to the BBC, in 2018 Nike acknowledged the rape allegations against Ronaldo and said in a statement: “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
However, Nike has stuck by the player, Sterling told The Times, that Nike’s latest banner featuring Ronaldo felt strategic, “It seems intentional and deliberately sensationalist. It seems to be a deliberate poke at the impunity around this man.”
Nike has yet to comment.
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