"Event allegedly dating back to almost 10 years ago": Juventus Football Club and Their Idi


(Image courtesy of sbnation.com)

This is about as close as you’ll get to reading a full-blown rant on From the Sidelines.

What has been the major topic in the world of sports recently are the rape allegations made against famous Juventus soccer/football player, Cristiano Ronaldo.

For those who don’t know, a woman by the name of Kathryn Mayorga, recently filed a civil lawsuit claiming that she was raped by Ronaldo in Las Vegas in 2009. Mayorga did go to the Las Vegas police, but was wary to name Ronaldo as the perpetrator, due to a fear of Ronaldo’s fame and the influence he has. She requested a private settlement from Ronaldo, receiving $375,000 for a non-disclosure agreement.

However, she has recently broken that agreement and filed a lawsuit. Police are now currently reinvestigating her case.

The news has many people up in arms, with some condemning Ronaldo as a monster, and others claiming that Mayorga is a liar. We, at The Sports Rooster, feel that until this case is resolved, we should refrain from condemning either party. But, if there is one group that we can get upset with right now, one group that really pissed me off personally, it is the Juventus Football Club. Why did they make me angry? It had to do entirely with their idiotic response to the allegations.

As the allegations became major news, Juventus tweeted out a controversial response to the accusations. The tweets stated:

“.@Cristiano Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus. 1/1

The events allegedly dating back to almost 10 years ago do not change this opinion, which is shared by anyone who has come into contact with this great champion. 2/2”

There are two major issues I had with this response.

The first major issue is that Juventus did not express any form of condemnation of sexual-based crimes, nor did they state that they are taking the allegations seriously. Compare this response with that of Nike, and you will see the major difference in organizational responses to the allegations. In response to the allegations, Nike stated that:

“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Never did Juventus Football Club mention that such actions are terrible or disturbing, or that they are taking the allegations seriously and will follow the investigation closely. Instead, they opted to simply remark how Ronaldo is a great champion and how he has been professional and dedicated to their team, an opinion that they stated wouldn’t change even if Ronaldo was found guilty. This is part of the second major issue I had with their response.

The second major issue I had (as well as many of my colleagues) with their response is that the response they crafted explicitly focused solely on the fact that the supposed event occurred almost ten years ago and on Ronaldo’s dedication and professionalism as a soccer player. One can very easily interpret (as many on Twitter rightly have, in my opinion) the organization’s focus on the time gap and Ronaldo’s hard work in their response as Juventus essentially saying, “if it did happen, it was so many years ago that its irrelevant, and Ronaldo is such a star so we don’t really care anyway.” I hope this wasn’t their intended message (but even if it wasn’t it's how people have taken it), though sports teams are no strangers to putting their efforts towards protecting their brand and their athletes, according to B. David Ridpath, an American intercollegiate coach and administrator.

If it was their intended message, there are many more colourful words I would use in this article to describe Juventus Football Club, but I don’t want to offend any readers (something Juventus clearly didn’t care about). Having discussed these two major issues, one might be asking: Why do these issues matter?

These issues matter because: what is and what is not said in the responses made by major sports organizations to rape allegations against certain athletes can send terrible messages to the general public. By not commenting on how terrible rape is and how serious an organization is taking the allegations, it sends a message to the general public that they also don’t need to take these allegations seriously or look at this form of criminality as being as horrible as it is. It normalizes the behaviour.

Further, a response can send a message to the public that a rape might as well be swept under the rug if the incident occurred “a long time ago,” and the person who is accused is a superstar.

Given that more women have come forward recently with their own allegations against Ronaldo, it is hard to say at this point where the situation will go and how it will ultimately be resolved. One thing that we can say for certain though, is that sports organizations like Juventus Football Club, when responding to allegations, should learn to spend less time kissing their players butts and more time thinking about how to craft a respectful, thoughtful response.

Research

Baer, Jack. 2018.“Lawyer of Cristiano Ronaldo's rape accuser claims second potential victim has come forward.” Yahoo Sports: Oct 7.

Ridpath, D. David. 2016.“The Attitude Toward Sexual And Athlete Violence In College Sports Must Change.” Forbes: Sept 15.

2018. “Amid rape case, Ronaldo asks for space to celebrate goal.” The Canadian Press: Oct. 6.