Santos has announced the suspension of Brazilian striker Robinho’s contract after sponsors and fans showed their rejection of the player’s signing for a rape conviction he received in Italy in 2017.

“Santos and the sportsman Robinho report that, by mutual agreement, They will suspend the validity of the contract signed on October 10 so that the player can focus exclusively on his defense in the process it has in Italy, “confirmed the Brazilian club.

The former forward of Real Madrid, Manchester City or AC Milan, among others, was sentenced by an Italian court in 2017 to nine years in prison for participating in the gang rape of a 23 year old woman in 2013 in Milan, when he was a member of the ‘rossoneri’.

The footballer has appealed the conviction, assuring that he is innocent. In addition, his lawyers have sent a letter to the media claiming that the player has always stated that had consensual sex. Robinho had previously been charged and acquitted of rape in 2009 while playing for Manchester City.

The former Brazilian international signed with Santos, where he had already played between 2002 and 2005, between 2009 and 2010 and between 2014 and 2015, on October 10. The Brazilian sports website Globoesporte published on Friday explicit audio files which the Italian judiciary reportedly used to render the verdict against Robinho.

After his signing was announced, a team sponsor, Orthopride, ended his relationship with Santos “out of respect for women”, and at least four more sponsors asked the club to have its contract terminated.