Could sponsors sue Ronaldo?

Cristiano Ronaldo could not only lose millions in sponsorship money amid rape allegations, said an expert in commercial contracts, but also be sued to recover past fees.

The Juventus star has strenuously denied the allegations put forward by model Kathryn Mayorga about an incident that reportedly occurred in 2009.

Nonetheless, the new details provided by Mayorga in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel pile more pressure on his sponsors.

Cristiano Ronaldo could not only lose millions in sponsorship money amid rape allegations, said an expert in commercial contracts, but also be sued to recover past fees.

The Juventus star has strenuously denied the allegations put forward by model Kathryn Mayorga about an incident that reportedly occurred in 2009.

Nonetheless, the new details provided by Mayorga in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel pile more pressure on his sponsors.

EA Sports have already removed Ronaldo from their social media presence, while Nike released a statement expressing their “concern” at the allegations.

“I am slightly surprised by Nike,” sports marketing consultant Nigel Currie told The Telegraph newspaper.

“When different allegations were being made about other athletes, they held on for much longer. It is significant for them to have issued a statement. They are clearly concerned.

“I think it shows the impact of social media. They can judge the way things are going much more from a public point of view.”

Ronaldo is one of only three stars who signed a lifetime contract with Nike, valued at $1bn, but he also generates around $176m in value for his sponsors.

According to commercial contracts specialist Simon Leaf, who works for Mishcon de Reya, the problems might be just beginning.

“This is likely to include not only their rights to terminate or suspend the relationship if the allegations prove to be accurate, but also whether they may be able to recover past fees paid to him,” Leaf told The Telegraph. 

“I’d be surprised if in a chunk sponsorship agreement, that we regularly advice on, there wasn’t some kind of representation that Ronaldo provided confirming that there were no issues that he was aware of that may cause the relevant brand harm, such as reputations damage, later down the line. This is one of the most heavily negotiated issues when it comes to a deal of this nature.

“At this stage, it is just an allegation. I’ve seen some contracts where, if there is even the hint of an allegation, brands will suspend the relationship and possibly terminate.

“A lot of it comes down to the power of the parties. You would think someone like Ronaldo would be in quite a strong bargaining position when approaching a negotiation with major brands.”

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