Ronaldo to start for Juventus amid rape allegation

Ronaldo to start for Juventus amid rape allegation
Juventus soccer team bus leaves for Udine after completing a training session at the Juventus training center in Turin, Italy, Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. Ronaldo, who is facing a rape allegation in the United States, could play when Juventus faces Udinese in the Italian league, according to coach Massimiliano Allegri. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

UDINE, Italy (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo is back in Juventus’ starting lineup, a week after a Nevada woman filed a civil lawsuit accusing him of rape nine years ago.

Ronaldo was included in the starting 11 for a Serie A match at Udinese on Saturday.

The Italian league game starts at 6 p.m. local time (1600 GMT).

Upon Ronaldo’s arrival at the Dacia Arena, he appeared intensely focused as fans cheered and yelled his name.

Earlier, Ronaldo’s mother Maria Dolores Aveiro sent her son a message on Instagram: “Good luck son and for your team because together we are stronger.”

Kathryn Mayorga filed a lawsuit last week in Nevada saying she was raped by Ronaldo in Las Vegas in 2009. Police have also re-opened an investigation. Ronaldo has denied the accusation.

Ronaldo missed Tuesday’s Champions League match against Young Boys because he was suspended after receiving a red card in an earlier match. However, he did play in the Italian league last weekend shortly after news broke about the allegation against him.

On Thursday, Juventus sent a statement of support and called him a “great champion.” But sponsors Nike and video game maker EA Sports have expressed concern about the allegation.

Since the allegation surfaced, Juventus’ share price has fallen by nearly 20 percent.

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Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf