Robinho signing prompts Santos sponsor to end deal 'out of respect for women'

Brazilian orthodontics franchise Orthopride has announced it has unilaterally ended its sponsorship deal with Santos "out of respect for women" after the club signed Robinho this week.

Robinho, 36, rejoined Santos for a third stint this week as a free agent, signing a five-month contract with the Sao Paulo side.

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In 2017, the former Manchester City forward was sentenced by an Italian court to nine years in prison for his involvement in the rape of a 22-year-old woman at a nightclub in 2013. Robinho appealed the ruling and no definite sentence has been given, but his signing with Santos this time around has been met with outrage in Brazil.

An Orthopride statement said: "We have great admiration for the history and tradition of Santos. We only found out of Robinho's signing during the end of the week via social media and other communication links. We continuously invest in sports marketing because we believe that sports is a transformation tool but what we cannot do is step over values of ethics, respect and dignity between human beings.

"That is why on Wednesday we decided to end our contract with the team, reinforcing our empathy with the female public that is part of our Orthopride family and supports us so much. We thank everybody that waited for our position."

Orthopride director of operations Richard Pride added: "Our audience is mostly women, and out of respect for women that use our products, we had to make this decision. We want to make it clear that we were not previously informed about the hiring of Robinho, we were taken by surprise by the press over the weekend."

Santos defended their decision to sign Robinho, who will earn $271 (R$1.500) a month at the club, just above the country's minimum wage, and said in a statement: "Santos FC, in its 108 years of history, has always been characterized by being an inclusive and socially responsible institution.

"Reference in the fight against racism, against any type of violence, especially against women, reference in investment in women's football and engagement in several causes. These are pillars and values that form the identity of the most famous Brazilian Club in the world and cause for rare pride for all its contributions to national sport. The association is also recognized for excellence in the training of athletes, a close and respectful relationship for all those on the field who helped to build our history.

"With regard to the case of the athlete Robson de Souza [Robinho], the club cannot enter into the merits of the accusation, as the case is under secrecy in Italy but above all, Santos FC is proud to always respect the fundamental guarantees of the human being, among which, the presumption of innocence and respect for due legal process.

"It should also be noted that there is no definitive sentence and the athlete responds in freedom and it will not be Santos FC that will give him an early sentence, prejudging and preventing him from exercising his profession."