Juventus shares fall sharply as club backs Ronaldo in alleged rape case

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Juventus’ attempt to sway public opinion in favour of Cristiano Ronaldo in the alleged rape case has backfired as the club shares collapsed by 10%.

The Turin based club until before the rise of the tempest was on cloud nine with a massive inflow of fortunes following the 33-year-old Portuguese football icon’s move from Real Madrid.

The $130 million signing – sixth highest ever in the European Club history – to acquire Ronaldo has resulted in a 40% jump in the Juventus stock values. The merchandising business had seen a never-heard-of-boom with 520,000 Ronaldo’s No. 7 shirts being sold out in the first 24 hours of the launch, helping the Serie A club rake in $9 million.

The surge in social media following, sponsorship values, gate collections, increase in viewership and media rights value for Serie A came over as added bonus with the deal.

Basking in the glory of commercial success football world’s biggest icon brought to the club, the club made the obvious choice of backing its star striker amidst the fresh investigation into alleged nine-year-old rape case against Ronaldo.

Two days ago, Juventus had tweeted to express the club’s support to Ronaldo. “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,” read the tweet.

This has not gone down well with the investors.

According to a report by Associated Press, the stock price of the club has plummeted 10% on Friday after Las Vegas Police Department has reopened the investigation into Kathryn Mayorga’s allegations that she was raped by Ronaldo in a Las Vegas hotel nine years ago.

The shares of the Italian champions had already took a plunge by 20% on the Italian Stock Exchange after which it continued to slip 10 % alone on Friday in the aftermath of sponsors voicing concerns about Ronaldo’s alleged conduct.

While some sponsors, taking the cognisance for the serious allegations, have said that they are monitoring the case closely until they take the final call, one among them has already taken a drastic step fearing negative publicity and dent in their brand image from rape allegations against Ronaldo.

Also Read: The Ronaldo-Juventus deal in numbers: ₹2.74 lakh per hour for CR7

American video game company EA Sports and producers of the popular FIFA football title Series have taken down Ronaldo from its website and social media platform a week after the latest edition – EA Sports FIFA 19 – was released with the Juventus man on the cover.

While EA Sports has not terminated the endorsement and image rights deal with Ronaldo, the company seems to distance itself from the star footballer fearing backlash and negative publicity.

The company’s homepage still uses athletes to represent NFL, NBA, NHL, UFC and golf games. But a block of teal has replaced the spot on a banner occupied by Ronaldo until Tuesday. The only visual representation of Ronaldo on the webpage is Ronaldo on the cover of the game box with Neymar, AP has reported.

The top of the FIFA 19 section of the EA website prominently showcased Ronaldo wearing the famed black-and-white Juventus jersey until at least Sunday. By Tuesday it had been replaced by a picture of four men in front of a television playing the game. At that point, a black-and-white photo of Ronaldo still appeared on the bottom right of the site. On Friday, that was replaced by an image of Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.

A week after Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit accusing Ronaldo of rape in 2009, sponsors are continuing to express concern about the case despite a denial from Ronaldo, who has not addressed why the Nevada woman’s legal team says a $375,000 settlement was reached in 2010 over the alleged assault by the football star in Las Vegas.

Mayorga’s legal team said it will ask a judge to void the non-disclosure agreement that the attorneys say Mayorga signed while accepting a $375,000 payment from Ronaldo in 2010. The civil lawsuit filed September 27 in state court in Las Vegas alleges Ronaldo hired a team of what the document called “fixers” to pressure Mayorga to keep quiet.

Nike, which has reportedly signed a $1 billion lifetime endorsement deal with Ronaldo, have also said that it was “deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Perform Group-owned OTT sports streaming platform DAZN, which has recently announced Ronaldo as their first global ambassador, have also raised concerns over the lawsuit against the icon. “We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously and continue to monitor the situation closely,” DAZN told the AP.

Ronaldo has also signed multi-million dollars endorsement deals with Herbalife Nutrition and American Tourister. According to Forbes’ estimates, the former Real Madrid star nets $47 million from his sponsors annually.

The sales of his growing line of CR7 branded products including shoes, underwear, fragrance, jeans, a children’s line, a line of hotels is also expected to take a hit.

Also Read: DAZN ropes in Cristiano Ronaldo as its first global brand ambassador