23 Jun 2019

The risks of accusing a soccer superstar

Credible allegations of rape against the world’s most famous soccer player were turned into a cheap erotic novel by the Croatian magazine “100 posto”. Some low-key victim blaming was also thrown in for good measure.

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The risks of accusing a soccer superstar - NewsMavens
football, PixaBay

A few weeks ago, the Croatian online magazine “100 posto” published a story about accusation against Cristiano Ronaldo of a rape committed in 2009, which has notably been reported by German magazine Der Spiegel.

The article was published as one in the series about “biggest sports scandals”, all of which revolve around sports celebrities’ sex lives, under the headline “RONALDO JUST COULDN’T COOL OFF / ‘He invited me into his jacuzzi, but he dragged me to the bedroom and threw me on the bed. He raped me anally and without a condom. He’s a f*cking loser!’.


The author, Vjekoslav Paun, opens the article with the following:

“The story is exactly 10 years old. And it did not end, every now and then there’s some “update” of the case from June 2009 when Cristiano Ronaldo, if former teacher Kathryn Mayorga is to be trusted, allegedly crossed the line…”.

Most of the text is a retelling of the events which took place in Ronaldo’s Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. It is told through alleged quotes from Kathryn Mayorga, including:

"’He invited me to his jacuzzi, but dragged me into the bedroom and threw me on the bed. I yelled 'no, no, no,' but he did not listen to me. When he finished, he said, 'Sorry, otherwise I'm a true gentleman!’, said the American in court.

“Kathryn Mayorga insists that she only kissed Ronaldo and did not touch him. But that kiss just turned him on even more.

‘He touched me everywhere and wanted to kiss me everywhere. I pushed him away and told him no.’"

“Her lawyer advised her not to make the story public, but Mayorga did not agree.

‘I wanted to teach him a lesson and I wanted him to pay for the therapies that I was sure I was going to need. I never wanted to get rich, but I wanted to look him in the eye and say what he did to me.’"

Next to these quotes, the author also mentions that Mayorga has received payment for her silence, reporting it as follows:

For Ronaldo, a world famous star, it’s a finished story. One which should not have been made public, according to a contract agreed by both parties. The American got $375,000 into her account and Kathryn Mayorga, according to him, was not supposed to release anything to the public.

She spoke nine years later, for the German Der Spiegel, and she explained why she decided to do it then...

"I still suffer from the consequences of this event!".

Evil tongues on social networks are saying that in the meantime she has squandered the money.”

The article ends with a reference to another case of rape accusations against a soccer celebrity, Neymar:

“The stain, whatever happened there in Las Vegas, will remain on the impeccable career of Cristiano Ronaldo, just as it is now happening in the case of -- Neymar.

However, the Brazilian could end up with six years in jail, as he also shared the photos of the Miss in question on his social network profiles…”


Der Spiegel first reported on the case in April 2017, and has continued to investigate it since. In the first report, the woman who accused Ronaldo of rape was not named. An alias “Susan K.” was used for her protection. It wasn’t until the article Der Spiegel published in September 2018 “Her Name Is Kathryn: The Woman Who Accuses Ronaldo of Rape”, that the real identity of “Susan K. was revealed -- this is when Kathryn Mayorga decided to talk publicly under her real name. The second part of the report was published on the same day, under a sub-headline “Part 2: A Dangerous Document”. These are the articles which served as basis for the one published in “100 posto” magazine.

The details of the case are complex and numerous. One, however, stands out: in a written statement given on September 2009, which preceeded the out-of-court settlement and a gag-order ensuring Mayorga’s silence, Cristiano Ronaldo himself described the event as nonconsensual sex - essentially, as rape.

Asked about the “details of the physical contact”, Ronaldo stated, among other things, that Mayorga told him she didn’t want to have sex with him and “kept saying no” and “don’t do it” during the rape. This, of course, was not the term he used (he rather stated that she “made herself available”, without clarifying the meaning of that). He also noted that the sex was “rough” and may have bruised Mayorga, and that he “apologized afterwords”.

Three months later, he gave different answers to the same questions, omitting details which effectively amount to a confession of rape.

Source: Spiegel Online (screenshot)

Spiegel’s September article also mentions the fact that Ronaldo himself stated that Mayorga clearly verbalized non-consent and tried to get him to stop. This is written in the part which explains the reasons she decided to come out and talk publicly about the rape:

“Essentially, there are three reasons. First, she has a new lawyer, one who is both experienced and unflinching. He believes the non-disclosure agreement is not legally binding and he has filed a civil complaint against Ronaldo in Kathryn Mayorga's name. That complaint is supported by a 27-page document that could have far-reaching consequences for the football star. The document contains a version of how Ronaldo experienced that night, including the following quote: ‘She said no and stop several times.’”

None of this was mentioned anywhere in “100 posto” article, based entirely on Spiegel’s September 2018 piece. Neither were multiple details of the journalists’ conversation with Mayorga, which include details from her biography and indicate the severity of the trauma she experienced: her visible exhaustion and nervousness; breaking down during the interview and being lead out of the room by her therapist for a half-hour break; the testimony of her mother, present during the interview, who described her daughter’s depression and traumathized reactions to the ubiquitous images of Ronaldo following the rape; her statements about being terrified of Ronaldo and harassment from his fans (which didn’t take long, judging by the fake Twitter account set up in her name shortly after the interview).

A fake account in Kathryn Mayorga’s name, still available on Twitter.

Moreover, most of the statements Mayorga gave during the interview were reprinted in “100 posto” incorrectly and some were entirely made up.

For a start, Mayorga’s description of the rape was not taken from her testimony at court as the article claims, since the trial hasn’t started yet. Mayorga’s quote of Ronaldo saying “'Sorry, otherwise I'm a real gentleman!’” doesn’t appear anywhere in Der Spiegel article. This is what was actually written in their September piece:

“After he assaulted me, he wouldn't let me leave again. He wouldn't let me leave. And he was calling me 'baby, baby.' He gave me this look, this guilty look. Almost like he felt bad. I don't remember but I'm pretty sure he said 'sorry' or 'Are you hurt?' And by this time, he's (...) on his knees. He says the 99 percent thing." He insisted, she says, that he was "a good guy" except for the "one percent."”

Another statement which was twisted beyond recognition by the “100 posto” journalist Vjekoslav Paun was the “quote” of Mayorga saying “he touched me everywhere and wanted to kiss me everywhere”. Her real description of the event in the interview for Der Spiegel was as follows:

“‘He was like, 'I'll let you go if you give me a kiss.' I said, 'OK, I'll kiss you but I'm not going to touch your nasty penis.'" Mayorga swears that she only kissed him and didn't otherwise touch him.

The kiss, though, she says, only turned him on more. "He starts to come on to me very strong. And he starts to do stuff to me and touch me and grab me and go down on me. I pushed him away and kept saying 'No.'"

At that moment, she says, one of his friends came in and asked: What are you doing? "I immediately grabbed my dress and put it on. And I said: 'We're leaving right now.' And I looked at him. He said: 'Yeah, yeah. We'll leave.'"

Mayorga sits quietly for a moment before continuing. "I thought everything was over." But it wasn't, she claims. "He pulls me into the room. I still wasn't afraid at all. I was just like, 'Man, this guy's adamant.' The most adamant I've ever dealt with. I explain to him: 'Listen dude, this is not going to happen.'’”

Mayorga’s alleged statement that she was advised by her lawyer not to go public and a supposed quote of her explanation why she went against that advice, also do not appear in the original articles as written in the “100 posto” piece. Der Spiegel writes that she was the one who was reluctant to go public - the lawyer was the one who advised her to go with an out-of-court settlement. This is how the matter was actually reported in Der Spiegel’s article:

“From that point on, Mayorga was trapped in this dilemma: On the one hand, she didn't want to go public with her name or his. On the other, she wanted justice. Her lawyer, she says, then proposed clearing up everything out of court.

In the U.S., sexual assaults are often reconciled with out-of-court settlements, with victims and perpetrators reaching an agreement without the case ever going to trial.

Sexual assault is the most serious crime in the state of Nevada after murder. If convicted, a person faces life in prison. But for a conviction to occur, guilt needs to be determined beyond reasonable doubt -- and that is especially difficult with sex crimes. Often, it's one person's testimony against that of another.

Many victims decide to pursue civil rather than criminal proceedings. The goal of the former is not to convict the alleged perpetrator but to indemnify the victim financially. The burden of proof is considerably lower in such proceedings. It only needs to be more than 50 percent likely that the alleged perpetrator committed the crime.

But a civil proceeding also has its drawbacks. Although the victim can apply for the case to be tried under a pseudonym, it is public and, of course, there is no guarantee that the person's anonymity will remain protected.

For this reason, many victims decide to resolve their case out of court, for example by mediation, in which a neutral person acts as mediator. It then ends in a settlement agreement.

This kind of procedure can be advantageous for both sides. The identities of the perpetrators and victims can be protected. The entire process is shorter than a trial. The distressing details of the rape don't necessarily have to be rehashed.

These arguments made sense to Mayorga. "I wanted to teach him a lesson. I wanted him to deal with it, to have to face me," she says. She also says that she wasn't looking to enrich herself, but she wanted him to pay for her treatment. "I'm not going to pay for my goddamn treatment," she says, describing her thinking at the time. ‘He raped me. He's going to pay for my goddamn treatment!’”

Finally, the quote of Mayorga’s reason for going public was made up and her real statement omitted. While Mayorga did talk about the “consequences of the event” that she has suffered since - including mental health problems which were never mentioned by “100 posto” -- that’s not how she described her reasons for speaking out. She talked about dealing with guilt for signing the non-disclosure agreement; the intimidation she faced from Ronaldo’s lawyers; the reactions she had when the first reports on the case were published and when she read the comments accusing her of being a “gold-digger”. And finally:

“The third reason is that she sees it as the only chance to learn whether there are other women out there who say they were sexually abused by Ronaldo. "It's something I've always wondered about," she says.”

In summary, the article’s headline presents rape as a consequence of a man just not being able to “cool off” from sexual arousal, while the first paragraph calls it “crossing the line”; the text distorts the real statements of the rape victim to make the description of events more “sexy” while omitting painful details of what she went through; and finally it makes unwarranted assertions that “some are saying she squandered the money” and calls another possible rape victim “a certain miss”. So, the author never explicitly writes that Mayorga is lying (albeit he does throw in a casual “if she’s to be trusted”), but he makes sure that the case is sensationalized and trivialized just enough to lead readers to the conclusion that rape allegations were brought up by a “gold digger” who wanted to make (more) money.

And the readers didn’t need to be convinced too hard. Aside from one comment questioning Ronaldo’s innocence in the light of his decision to pay for Mayorga’s silence, the rest are just a parade of misogyny and victim blaming:

She already saw herself as Mrs. Ronaldo... When that fell through “of course" she feels raped”

“And why would he need a condom if he’ll slip it in your ass? So you don’t get pregnant through the asshole !? ;)”

“So what did she do with him half naked in the jacuzzi? Talked about world problems? She took the dollars, and now she’s out of money so she wants more.”

“No condoms and lubricants? The lady is clearly experienced, not the first time she took it up the ass.”

“The only truth in this text is that Kiki banged her in the ass“

“Lying slut!”

“So now you’re like some hot chick who turned down Ronaldo, the dude can get a 100 best chicks into bed with just one look and he supposedly forced you, fake story that not even fans of Barcelona will believe.”

“She went into his apartment without a swimming suit, and as she was undressing he slipped it to her sideways. Shame on him, how could he do that to a “lady of the night”. After that on the bed everything was fine and when she left she got the check, but reading the amount she knew she was raped. Terrible.”

“A typical whore who wants fame”

All this - and worse - was repeated in the comments of the article’s shares on “100 posto” Facebook page and the page of “Sportske novosti” (Sports news), an outlet of the same publisher, Jutarnji list.  


The way a rape case was presented in the headline is an example of clickbait drawing from trivialization of sexual violence against women. The way that details of the case were presented and Kathryn Mayorga’s statements cherry-picked, reshaped and reprinted by “100 posto”, has also left this article riddled with disinformation and manipulation of facts.  


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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