Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo has said the rape allegation made against him is "interfering in my life" and revealed it was his relationship with Real Madrid President Florentino Perez that prompted him to leave the club in the summer.
Last month, a police investigation into a rape allegation made against Ronaldo by Kathryn Mayorga in 2009 was reopened. Mayorga has accused Ronaldo of raping her in a Las Vegas hotel room and paying her $375,000 for her silence on the matter, claims he denies.
"Of course, this story is interfering in my life. I have a partner, four children, an aging mother, sisters, a brother, a family with whom I am very close. Not to mention my reputation, which is that of someone exemplary.
"Imagine what it means when someone accuses you of rape, whether you have all that or not. I know who I am and what I did. Truth will out one day. And the people who criticise me or seek to expose my life today, who make it into a circus, these people will see."
Ronaldo added that he has not spoken about the allegations with his eight-year-old son, but he has discussed the matter with his partner Georgina Rodriguez:
"I explained to my partner. My son, Cristiano Jr., is too young to understand. It's worst for my mother and my sisters. They are stunned, and at the same time very angry. This is the first time I have seen them in this state."
The 33-year-old denied the accusation on Twitter, and Juventus made a show of support toward him on the social media platform as well:
Ronaldo swapped the all-white of Real Madrid for Juve's black and white in a €112 million (£99.2 million) move after nine years in Spain, in which he helped the Madrid club win La Liga twice and the UEFA Champions League four times.
Discussing his exit from the Santiago Bernabeu, he said:
"I felt it inside the club, especially from the president, that they no longer considered me the same way that they did in the start. In the first four or five years there, I had the feeling of being 'Cristiano Ronaldo.' Less afterwards.
"The president looked at me through eyes that didn’t want to say the same thing, as if I was no longer indispensable to them, if you know what I mean.
"That's what made me think about leaving."
The Portugal international was given a standing ovation by Bianconeri fans last season when he scored an overhead kick against Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final.
The club evidently made him feel similarly welcomed, as he explained he opted to join the Serie A side because they showed "they really wanted me."
Ronaldo said he did not receive that same feeling in Madrid: "Sometimes I'd look at the news, where they were saying I was asking to leave. There was a bit of that, but the truth is that I always had the impression that the president would not hold me back."
On Perez, he added: "He only ever looked at me as a business relationship. I know it. What he told me never came from the heart."
Given what he achieved at the club, Ronaldo was entitled to want to feel valued at the Bernabeu:
Although it's clear Ronaldo still has time at the top level yet—he's contributed seven goals and five assists in 12 matches for the Old Lady—parting with Ronaldo for a profit at this stage in his career could have been seen as good business for Real.
However, after doing little to replace him, Real are struggling without their talisman and sit ninth in La Liga. As such, Perez may regret not doing more to keep Ronaldo at the club.