Portugal’s Prime Minister Costa defends Ronaldo amid rape accusation

Portugal’s Prime Minister has defended Cristiano Ronaldo following an accusation that he raped a woman in Las Vegas nine years ago.

Ronaldo has been accused of rape by Kathryn Mayorga, who claims the Juventus forward assaulted her in Las Vegas in 2009. He has firmly denied the accusation.

Ronaldo was left out of the latest Portugal squad but scored for Juventus in Saturday’s 2-0 Serie A win at Udinese.

During a visit to Lanzarote, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa was asked by reporters about the allegations engulfing Ronaldo.

Costa said: “People need to understand once and for all that there’s one thing that is presumption of innocence. It is not enough for someone to be accused of something to be guilty of it.

“And if there’s something we have proof of is that he is an extraordinary professional, an extraordinary sportsman, an extraordinary footballer, and someone who has honoured and given prestige to Portugal.

“And certainly what we all wish for is that nothing can ever stain that record of Ronaldo. So, to assume as certain what is a mere accusation, if you excuse me, one cannot rely on permanent public trials that took so many years to build.”

Ronaldo’s sponsors Nike and video game maker EA Sports have expressed concern about the allegation but Juventus have already pledged their support for their summer signing, calling him a great champion.

The forward is Europe’s all-time leading scorer in international matches and helped Portugal win the European Championship in 2016.