Cristiano Ronaldo protestors fly banner in support of rape accuser over Man Utd debut

The Portuguese forward was making his first appearance for Manchester United since 2009 but feminist group Level Up aimed to “disrupt the fanfare” with the banner

Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay nowMan Utd fans snap up Ronaldo shirts at Old TraffordByColin MillarDigital Sports Writer

  • 17:32, 11 Sep 2021
  • Updated17:38, 11 Sep 2021

A banner in support of Cristiano Ronaldo's rape accuser was flown over Old Trafford as the Portuguese superstar made his second Manchester United debut on Saturday.

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The feminist group Level Up organised the plane to fly the banner with the message “Believe Kathryn Mayorga” over the stadium to "remind crowds" of rape allegations against the Portuguese superstar.

The plane was flown over Old Trafford ahead of kick-off in Saturday’s Premier League match between the hosts and Newcastle – Ronaldo’s first appearance for United since re-joining the club from Juventus last month.

Mayorga has claimed that she was assaulted by Ronaldo at a Las Vegas hotel in 2009 but the footballer has denied the allegation against him.

A banner reading '#Believe Kathryn Mayorga' was flown over Old Trafford during Saturday's Premier League match between Man United and Newcastle
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Image:
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Level Up have stated that their aim was to "disrupt the fanfare" surrounding Ronaldo’s heavily publicised second debut at United – in which he scored twice in a 4-1 victory over the Magpies.

Janey Starling, Level Up’s co-director, stated that the group wanted to send "a message to football that rape allegations can't be kicked off the pitch."

In 2019, US prosecutors said Ronaldo would not face any charges, nine years after Mayorga reportedly reached an out-of-court settlement with the Portuguese player.

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Ms Mayorga had sought to re-open the case in 2018 with her lawyer claiming that she had taken motivation from the #MeToo movement against sexual violence.

Ronaldo is alleged to have raped Mayorga, an American woman, during a holiday to Las Vegas in the summer of 2009, just weeks before his move from United to Real Madrid. An allegation he has always denied.

On June 12, 2009, Ronaldo met Mayorga at the now-closed nightclub Rain, and they were pictured by paparazzi on that evening.

Mayorga has alleged that she was invited back to Ronaldo's suite at the Palms Place Hotel, where it is alleged that the rape took place.

A day later, on June 13, 2009, Mayorga reported the alleged rape to police but opted against revealing her name or the name of her alleged attacker, or where the incident had taken place.

Cristiano Ronaldo netted twice in Man United's 4-1 win over Newcastle on Saturday
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Image:
AFP via Getty Images)

After hiring a lawyer Mayorga initiated civil proceedings against Ronaldo.

The allegation reached the public domain as a result of being reported by German newspaper Der Spiegel in 2017, as a result of their Football Leaks exposé, with documents revealing details of the case.

A document from the leaks allege Ronaldo said "she said no and stop several times" during sex. He is also said to have apologised afterwards. His legal team have said the document was "completely fabricated".

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In September 2018, the player released a statement to publicly refute the allegations: “I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me.

“Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in. Keen as I may be to clear my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense.”

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