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Banner flown over Cristiano Ronaldo's Man United return in support of woman who accused him of rape
12/09/2021 11:40:45

Gender justice group Level Up flew a plane over Old Trafford on Saturday in support of the woman who brought a rape case against Cristiano Ronaldo, who was making his first appearance for Manchester United since rejoining the club.

A banner with the words "#Believe Kathryn Mayorga" -- the name of the woman who accused Ronaldo of rape in a case that was dismissed and who has since taken a civil suit against him -- trailed from the plane during the game, which Man United won 4-1, with Ronaldo scoring twice.

"We flew a plane over the Man United football ground and our message is simple: Believe Kathryn Mayorga," Level Up wrote on Twitter.

"Let's say NO to the culture of silence around abuse from the football community. Pledge your solidarity with Kathryn & survivors."

Mayorga said that she had been raped in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009 but at the time did not reveal the name of whom she was raped by.

In 2010, she accepted money from Ronaldo and his lawyers in a non-disclosure agreement.

Her case was first reported by Der Spiegel in 2017 where she was kept anonymous.

Ronaldo's representatives initially said the reports were "journalistic fiction" before signed documents were made public alongside correspondences between Ronaldo and his lawyers.

Mayorga came forward publicly in 2018.

Authorities in the United States said in 2019 they wouldn't progress with the prosecution against him as the allegations "cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

Mayorga then launched a civil lawsuit arguing that she wasn't in a fit mental state to sign the non-disclosure agreement.

Ronaldo asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed in June 2021 and for Mayorga's lawyer, Leslie Mark Stovall, to be punished for soliciting allegedly stolen documents in July 2018 from an entity called "Football Leaks," months before filing the case.

Level Up also launched a petition in support of Mayorga.

"This is not just about solidarity with Kathryn, it's about every single survivor of sexual violence. It's about breaking the silence around abuse, and speaking truth to power," a statement with the petition said.

"It's for everyone who knows what it feels like to live with lifelong injury, injustice and be told to stay quiet.

"This is about football clubs and players waking up to the reality that they can't act with impunity -- or pay their way out of accountability."

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