Cristiano Ronaldo has received applause and boos after scoring for Juventus as he continues to receive support after allegations of rape surfaced last week.
Ronaldo’s powerful, angled goal, the second of the match and his fourth of the season, was met with a mixed response in the Italian league game at the Stadio Friuli, home of Udinese.
Juventus won the game 2-0, making it 10 wins in a row in all competitions for the first time to start a season.
“Ronaldo had a good game,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.
“He’s been training serenely and tonight he scored an extraordinary goal.”
Just over a week ago, Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in the US saying she was raped by Ronaldo in Las Vegas in 2009. Police have re-opened an investigation. Ronaldo has denied the accusation.
Ronaldo was not available for questions after the match, and Allegri wouldn’t speculate what has been going through Ronaldo’s mind away from the football field.
“Off the pitch, I don’t know, because I don’t live with him at home,” Allegri said.
“I see him on the pitch and he’s serene. He trains, he plays and he scores goals — that’s the most important thing.”
Ronaldo played last for Juventus last weekend in Serie A, but midweek he missed a Champions League game because of an automatic suspension from a red card, and has been left out of Portugal’s squad for their upcoming international matches.
Available again for Juventus on Saturday, Ronaldo’s mother, Maria Dolores Aveiro, sent her son a message on Instagram: “Good luck son and for your team because together we are stronger.”
Portuguese PM offers support for Ronaldo
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa has also spoken out in defence of Ronaldo, who lead Portugal to the 2016 European Championship title and has won numerous civic awards from the Portuguese state.
Speaking to television reporters on the Spanish island of Lanzarote, Mr Costa spoke in defence of Ronaldo, appealing to the presumption of innocence, as well as Ronaldo’s successful career.
“People need to understand … [the] presumption of innocence,” Costa said. “It is not enough for someone to be accused of something to be guilty of it.
“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.”
Some Juventus fans at the match also expressed support for Ronaldo.
“Rape is just an excuse. It’s because he came to Juventus. If he had stayed at Real Madrid nobody would have said a thing,” Juventus supporter Stefano Pianeta said outside the stadium, referring to Ronaldo’s recent transfer from Madrid.
Another fan, Fabrizio Paduna added, “It’s just rumours for me. I really don’t think it’s true.”
On Thursday, Juventus sent a statement of support and called him a “great champion.” But his sponsors Nike and video game maker EA Sports have expressed concern about the allegation.
Since the allegation surfaced, Juventus’ share price has fallen by nearly 20 per cent.
Neither Ronaldo nor Juventus have addressed the allegation by Mayorga that she received a payoff of $375,000 in 2010 after being put under pressure by the player’s “fixers” to keep quiet about an incident in a penthouse hotel suite.
Other than the game against Young Boys, Ronaldo has played every minute of Juventus’ other nine matches in all competitions this season.
Juventus have won all eight of their Serie A matches this season and lead the Italian championship by nine points after Saturday’s matches.