US sportswear giant Nike says it is “deeply concerned” by rape allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo and shares in Italian champions Juventus fell over five percent on the Italian stock exchange on Friday.
Portuguese star Ronaldo is one of the world’s top athletes and boasts a number of lucrative sponsorship contracts.
But his relationship with Nike, which is rumoured to be worth $1 billion dollars (869 million euros), could be in jeopardy after police in Las Vegas announced this week they were reopening a rape case after allegations made by a former model, Kathryn Mayorga, relating to an incident in 2009.
“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation,” a Nike spokesman told AFP on Thursday.
According to Forbes magazine, Ronaldo is one of only three athletes to have been given a lifetime deal with Nike, joining an elite club that also includes NBA icons LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
EA Sports, for whom Ronaldo is a leading figure in their phenomenally successful FIFA video game market, also described the allegations as “concerning”.
“We are closely monitoring the situation, as we expect cover athletes and ambassadors to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with EA’s values,” the group said in a statement.