Lisbon, October 7: Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa has spoken out in defense of football star Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been embroiled in a rape accusation.
Speaking to television on the Spanish island of Lanzarote on Saturday (October 6), Costa made an appeal to the presumption of innocence, as well as Ronaldo's successful career.
"People need to understand one and for all that there's one thing that is presumption of innocence," Costa said. "It is not enough for someone to be accused of something to be guilty of it."
Costa added: "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 honored and given prestige to Portugal, and certainly what we all wish for is that nothing can ever stain that record of Ronaldo."
I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me. Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in. Keen as I may be to clear my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense.— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) October 3, 2018
Ronaldo's Italian club 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. Ronaldo is Europe's all-time leading scorer in international matches. He helped Portugal win the European Championship in 2016.