Real Madrid have said claims from a Portuguese newspaper that they pushed Cristiano Ronaldo to reach an out-of-court settlement with Kathryn Mayorga, the American woman who accused him of sexual assault, are "rotundly false."
The Independent's Ed Malyon wrote Los Blancos are now taking legal action against the tabloid, Correio da Manha, which said they forced Ronaldo to settle for a fee as they were worried about their then-record signing's image.
A statement from Real read:
"Real Madrid C.F. communicates that it has undertaken legal action against the Portuguese newspaper Correio da Mancha for the publication of information that is rotundly false and that intends to seriously damage the image of our club.
"Real Madrid had no knowledge of the occurrences that said newspaper refers to relative to the player Cristiano Ronaldo and, as such, could not have done anything about something that it absolutely did not know anything about.
"Real Madrid has asked for a complete correction on the part of the aforementioned publication."
Mayorga spoke to Der Spiegel about her allegations in September after the German magazine initially reported them without revealing her identity in 2017.
After the allegations were initially reported, Mayorga sought advice from a new lawyer, who has argued a non-disclosure agreement she signed in return for the settlement was "not legally binding." On Wednesday, Ronaldo's lawyer called Der Spiegel's reporting of the events an "international defamation campaign."
Christoph Winterbach, a Der Spiegel's journalist who worked on the Ronaldo story, responded to the lawyer's comments on Thursday:
The alleged rape is said to have taken place in the summer of 2009 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, shortly before Ronaldo moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid for £80 million.
Shortly after Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit against Ronaldo in late September, Las Vegas police reopened an investigation into her accusation.
Winterbach noted this isn't the first time legal representation for Ronaldo has taken issue with Der Spiegel's reporting:
Christoph Winterbach @derWinterbach
Doubting our documents seems to be their preferred strategy: When we published an article about the settlement agreement between #Mayorga and #Ronaldo in 2017, his advisors first called it „journalistic fiction“. Now, @Cristiano admits that he agreed to that settlement. 6/11
Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Italian giants Juventus in July for £100 million.