Juventus went all in on Cristiano Ronaldo in July. A few months later, under remarkably different and harrowing circumstances, it's gone all in again.
A club that prides itself on its fresh branding and international appeal went to great lengths to support its Portuguese superstar Thursday, days after detailed allegations from Kathryn Mayorga regarding a 2009 sexual assault in Las Vegas resurfaced in German outlet Der Spiegel. Its tone deaf statement, released via Twitter, reads as follows:
"Cristiano Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus. 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."
Does the fact that the alleged incident happened almost a decade ago matter? Is there a statute on humanity? Does it matter that he's a "great champion?" The answer to all of those, of course, is a resounding no.
If nothing else, it mirrored Ronaldo's initial reaction, which was to casually drop a "Fake news" on an Instagram Live video before defending himself with a more measured, strongly worded set of tweets.
Juventus didn't stop with its statement, either.
It followed with a quick retweet of the women's team, because nothing says 'we get it' by following up a dismissal of a woman's sexual assault claims then an instant pivot to this:
And then, almost immediately after, look, Cristiano hits the target in training!
The utter stupidity behind the club's actions is baffling. Even Nike, which has Ronaldo signed to a lifetime contract that is far longer than the four years he's tied to Juventus, has a hand on the pulse of the situation enough to tell the Associated Press, “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
To be clear, nobody is doubting Ronaldo's current professionalism and dedication. None of that has any bearing on what he's currently facing, despite his adamant denial and "clear conscience." The point, as of Wednesday anyway, isn't even whether Ronaldo is guilty or innocent of an incident that allegedly occurred over nine years ago. The documentation and detail revealed in Der Spiegel's report is damning, but there's a legal process that will determine his standing. If the supposed settlement between the two parties is upheld and Ronaldo doesn't face any new charges in the Las Vegas Police Department's re-opened investigation, then there's nothing else to be judged. But that's not for Juventus to decide.
The club didn't need to say anything, and clearly it didn't feel as much if it was going to downplay the events of almost a decade ago as insignificant. If it wanted to address the current events, it could've shown compassion, or at least pretended to be supportive of the countless people who have been sexually abused and deal with the fallout every day of their lives. Instead, it's another star getting the unquestioned benefit of the doubt and another alleged victim showing why, if the story goes as she described, she stayed silent for so long.
And even if, as Juventus so brazenly pointed out, the incident happened so long ago, Mayorga says she has suffered from post-traumatic stress ever since. So while the story is an ancient one for Ronaldo, it's still clearly very present for the alleged victim. Unless Ronaldo or his team have the documentation to prove otherwise, it's the height of insensitivity and irresponsibility to dismiss her claims and condition.
Ronaldo, with the alleged actions of almost a decade ago, has put Juventus in a tough spot, and it's not surprising that Juventus—which spent big to bring Ronaldo over from Real Madrid in hopes of winning a Champions League title—would back its star attraction. There was a way to both support Ronaldo and acknowledge the seriousness of the claims being levied against him. But the club didn't do itself any favors by casually downplaying an alleged sexual assault, all in the name of its "great champion."