To be fair to Juventus Football Club, it wouldn’t exactly be unlike them to overlook some potential wrongdoing, all the while putting themselves above any greater good or some basic decency or what should be the cornerstone concept of what is right and what is fair.
Glance over your shoulder, back to the late 1990s, to get a sense of them and what they are truly about. That was a time when infamously they’d amassed a library of documents showing that a good chunk of their squad had blood values consistent with EPO usage, they were accused in court of effectively running a small pharmacy, such was the alleged scale of their operation and cheating, but they still managed to make it go away via that classic legal fudge of appeals.
Yet even knowing what they’ve stood for for some time, it was still impossible not to be shocked at their words on Thursday, less than 24 hours after the attorneys of Kathryn Mayorga outlined their case around what they say was the rape of their client in a Las Vegas hotel in 2009. Sport, and even doping which we obsess about in many cases, is chalked down as a serious matter. However, these things are relative and this was a step into the griminess of a sorry real world.
In terms of Cristiano Ronaldo, we don’t know if he is guilty or not, or when or how this will play out. However, the point is that neither do Juventus. And still they took to social media with this:
“Cristiano Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus.”
Neither satisfied nor finished, in a follow-up Tweet they added,
“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.”
In a sporting age where so much is sanitised and safe, this was outrageous and disgraceful. They are not words that we use lightly either for this put-profit-before people and money-before-morals in such a blunt manner that even in a hugely corporate sphere we were taken aback.
Juventus’ purchase of the Portuguese back in summer was never just about football, even if getting over the line in the Champions League was, of course, a major part of that. But there was more as the modern game has morphed into a business operation in large tracts, and him being in Turin would enhance the profile and brand, grow social media following and increase jersey and product sales. It was to a degree a look-at-us power play.
For that to be dented so early into the investment no doubt hurts, but when in a hole you stop digging. Only here they kept on shovelling frantically, already taking sides in a matter they can have no real knowledge of, with their rationale being disgusting. It stank of the worst vestiges of an ultra-capitalist era.
So often we say sport is a microcosm of that real world and this is no different. Yesterday in Brazil a man that has told women in parliament they were too ugly to rape won round one of their presidential election and it was deemed good for the markets.
In America, Brett Kavanaugh was willed in as a supreme court judge too, despite serious allegations around rape that were largely bypassed as it suited some and their vision of the future.
Thus this was football making a similar stab with a similar statement.
Consider the deeper meaning about what Juventus were saying. In essence, it was that professionalism in a job and being the best at that job makes serious allegations of sexual assault ridiculous, allied to the fact that time is a healer. Do only unprofessional people rape? Has no top person in their field done this? Does a decade make any difference if this is true?
It is a Neanderthal mindset and a bloody dangerous one at that. However, it is accepted because of our value system of putting celebrity and sport above the society women have to live in. It’s who you are, not what you do.
So much about this is stomach churning. In terms of the case itself we know that the police in Vegas tried to discourage Mayorga from filing her report. It was also said by her legal team that they didn’t so much as visit the hotel and resort where the attack is said to have taken place, this in a city where everything is always on tape.
It left the case to go down the most troublesome of paths for look at what we do know. The rape kit shows trauma, Mayorga was pictured with Ronaldo that night, and he paid her off as to make this all go away merely took a week’s worth of wages from his Madrid wages days. And then there are the Der Spiegel allegations.
It’s claimed a person in the firm of Ronaldo’s lawyer Osorio De Castro’s sent the below document in September 2009 where in response to a question about whether Ms C (Mayorga) ever screamed or raised her voice, their client Mr X (Ronaldo) answered:
“She said no and stop several times… I entered her from behind. It was rude. We didn’t change position. 5/7 minutes. She said that she didn’t want to, but she made herself available… But she kept saying ‘No.’ ‘Don’t do it.’ ‘I’m not like the others.’ I apologized afterwards… She didn’t complain about it being brutal. She complained that I forced her. She didn’t say anything about wanting to go to the police.”
It all gives new and terrifying meaning to what happens in Vegas staying in Vegas.
Ronaldo has denied this happened, and in fact, a second leaked questionnaire has him denying any anal sex took place. However it’s also claimed there is DNA to be tested, and so much of this comes back to what is and isn’t admissible.
That’s a pitiful situation as can you think of a more corrupt slip into the justice system than non-disclosure agreements when the gag order is to prevent criminal prosecution? The legal framework has as a result been designed to enable the rich to operate under a different level of jeopardy. Rather than accepted as acceptable, paying someone off to avoid charges should be seen as an attempt to pervert the course of justice.
It’s another reminder that what is lawful is by no means what is right.
Still, if that’s the course we are on and it must be allowed to play out, that doesn’t mean we cannot use it to hold up a mirror to the modern world and look at how bad a place it’s in. Juventus responded as they did, but it wasn’t just them.
Social media is an interesting concept as it allows us to see what people really think when, before, they often just stayed quiet as their thoughts and thickness festered internally. With this though many made it about trivialities like who their team was and who their favourite player was. Barcelona and Messi fans saw it as a chance to point score. And this is nothing new, for that Kavanaugh case was Republicans versus Democrats rather than a victim and a potential crime.
All in all, it’s using rape as a tool to get one over.
It has reminded us that the ‘Me Too’ movement isn’t winning, instead it’s being dragged to the right along with so much other thinking. This is a very concerning time and for sport to add to it should open eyes but just look at the lack of coverage around Ronaldo and the lack of disgruntlement around Juventus. How we end up with such situations is because they are normalised and so bad is it that we wait to see what the likes of Nike do to get a sense of morality.
We truly are scraping the barrel.
But Mayorga doesn’t matter if we are honest about this and nor does the truth. That’s because she accused someone that is too valuable to too many. Brands need protecting more than people, and justice isn’t worth it when there’s a hit on value.
As Ronaldo said himself in a hat-tip to a borderline fascist, this was “fake news”.
No doubt that will have pleased Juventus.
That this has been so predictable makes it feel so much worse.
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