Public relations are a difficult thing to master, but they’re fairly simple to handle if one uses their common sense. Yesterday, Juventus completely dropped the ball and embarrassed themselves with their comments regarding Cristiano Ronaldo.
For those who have been out of the loop, Kathryn Mayorga has come forward to claim that she was raped by Cristiano Ronaldo in Las Vegas, in 2009. The allegations, first reported by Der Spiegel, have shocked the football world and have even caused the investigation to be reopened ten years later. Ronaldo has come forward via social media to deny the allegations, while Juventus took to the same platform to inexplicably praise the Portuguese forward in the midst of such serious claims, rather than defending his innocence or simply staying silent.
Juventus were expected to stand by their superstar and have done so, but their tweets regarding the situation were incredibly ignorant and unaware of just how serious the situation is. A public statement simply acknowledging the allegations and allowing an investigation to take place would have sufficed, but now the club have put themselves in hot water with just two tweets.
The club’s official account tweeted twice about the incident, saying: “Cristiano Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus…The events allegedly dating back to 10 years ago do not change this opinion, which is shared by anyone who has come into contact with this great champion.”
The problem? The club have decided to praise Ronaldo’s current etiquette, implying that his past transgressions have no impact on how people currently view him. On top of that, the very serious allegations have been tossed aside in the two tweets, focusing on his “great professionalism and dedication.” It is a ridiculous statement that lacks a moral compass and fails to take into account how potential sexual assault victims feel. The fact that Juventus, on both their Italian and English accounts, retweeted a post from Juventus FC Women, after the statement, only adds salt to the wound.
Football clubs stand by their players, whether they are guilty or not, but to drop the ball entirely on such an important issue is completely unprofessional. The people responsible for the statement made by the club must think before they speak/tweet; were they to simply state how seriously they take such allegations, and how they believe their star player is innocent, it would have sufficed.
Instead, after days of careful deliberation, Juventus crafted a statement completely disrespectful and offensive to the victims of sexual assault. The notion that people who demonstrate professionalism and dedication are incapable of rape is false and disrespectful to sexual assault victims. As we have seen this past year through the Me Too movement, whether it be Matt Lauer, Mario Batali, or Charlie Rose, successful men are perfectly capable of sexual assault.
In addition, the “allegedly dating back to 10 years ago” part of the statement is crude and leaves many pondering just how one of the world’s most powerful clubs could craft such an ill thought out statement. Whether these allegations turn out to be true or not, the time-frame is completely irrelevant. As we have seen with the allegations brought forth by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the passage of time does not wash away the pain and trauma caused by sexual assault.
When you see someone coming forward and sharing their sexual assault story, your first notion should not be, “This person is just out to ruin this successful person’s life.” Many of these sexual assault victims have already had their lives ruined from the trauma of their abuse. Furthermore, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the vast majority of sexual assault cases, 63 percent, are never brought forward to the police. In contrast, studies show that between 2 percent to 6 percent of cases of sexual violence are found or suspected to be false.
In other words, for every false sexual assault allegation, there are at least ten sexual assault cases that will never be taken public to the police. In other words, you cannot justify your paranoid denial of every single “Me Too” allegation with statistics.
Please think about victims of sexual assault before you speak about allegations of sexual assault and be respectful. It’s a sensitive issue that must be taken seriously, no matter who is involved.
By: Harry Harris