Ronaldo’s $1bn sponsorship empire in jeopardy after rape claim

Cristiano Ronaldo is coming under intense pressure from his sponsors following a rape allegation made against him, with Nike joining EA Sports in expressing its concern over the issue.

The Portuguese forward is one of just three athletes to sign a lifetime contract with Nike, which is said to be worth up to $1bn. “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation,” Nike told AP in a statement.

Ronaldo is also the face of the EA Sports Fifa video game franchise, appearing on the cover of the 2019 game that was released worldwide last week. “We have seen the concerning report that details allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo,” EA Sports told AP in a statement. “We are closely monitoring the situation, as we expect cover athletes and ambassadors to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with EA’s values.”

The 33-year-old faces a lawsuit from a woman who claims he raped her in 2009 in a Las Vegas hotel room, then paid her $375,000 in exchange for her silence. Las Vegas police have reopened an investigation into the matter.

Ronaldo, who was publicly backed by his club Juventus on Thursday, denies any wrongdoing.