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Feminist group flies banner with name of Ronaldo’s alleged rape victim over Manchester game

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By Marthe de Ferrer

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures during the English Premier League match with Newcastle United at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, September 11, 2021


Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo gestures during the English Premier League match with Newcastle United at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, September 11, 2021

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Rui Vieira/AP

As football star Cristiano Ronaldo played his first match since returning to Manchester United on Saturday, a plane was flown over Old Trafford stadium with the name of his alleged rape victim, a Euronews journalist on the ground reported.

“Believe Kathryn Mayorga,” the banner read.

Mayorga says Ronaldo raped her in 2009, with the case reopened in 2019.

Ronaldo has denied the claims.

“Let’s say NO to the culture of silence around abuse from the football community. Pledge your solidarity with Kathryn and survivors,” the feminist campaign group behind the initiative wrote on Twitter.

“The football world has remained silent over the claims, whilst fawning over Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United,” Level Up said in a statement.

“There’s been almost a complete media blackout on it,” said Janey Starling, one of the co-directors of Level Up.

“Sexual violence is shrouded in silence and that’s how it is perpetuated,” she told Euronews.

“We wanted to deliver a message to all-powerful and wealthy men that they can’t act without impunity.”

“But it was also a message to all survivors to say that we see you,” the activist went on. “So it was a message to perpetrators and a gesture of solidarity with victims as well.”

Starling said the event was financed through fundraising.

“A lot of male supporters donated, particularly football fans. So there were a lot of feminist football fans who pitched in, which is particularly beautiful,” she told Euronews.

“This won’t be the last you see from us,” she added.

Ronaldo secured an unexpected return to United after 12 years when he was sold by Juventus last month.

The 36-year-old Portugal forward scored twice, taking Manchester United 2-1 up against Newcastle.

The masses of United fans arriving at Old Trafford in their new jerseys with Ronaldo on the back got what they hoped for when the lineup was revealed an hour before kickoff in the Premier League match.

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