But not all players can be said to be good examples. In the past, we’ve seen footballers who have been involved in all manner of untoward acts, including assault, tax evasion and even rape.
The latter is much condemnable and should never be condoned, irrespective of the superstar status of the individual involved. That said, though, not all footballers who have been accused of rape were found guilty.
Some actually went on to clear their names through the court system and acquitted themselves from all charges.
Here are six footballers who were able to clear their names after being accused of rape:
In 2019, PSG star Neymar came under the spotlight after he was accused of rape by a lady named Najila Trindade.
Najila alleged that the Brazil international raped her in a hotel in Paris, with the case ending up in court.
However, Neymar was cleared by the court of justice in Brazil after it emerged that his accuser had connived with her husband to blackmail the footballer.
In a video that was released by Neymar on Instagram, the Brazil captain admitted to sleeping with the lady, but said it was consensual sex rather than rape. After being cleared by the court, the Police later filed a defamation suit against Najila.
In 2020, Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi was also investigated after a rape allegation was made against him.
Then 19 years old, the footballer was arrested on accusation of sexual assault but was subsequently released in June that year.
Hudson-Odoi was, however, cleared after the Metropolitan Police ended their investigation. In a post on Twitter, the player wrote: “I have stayed silent and assisted the police fully throughout their enquiries, as I knew the day would soon come when my name would be cleared.
“Following a full and thorough investigation, the police have now confirmed they will take no further action. I would like to use this platform to thank everyone who has stood by my side and supported me during this difficult period.”
Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo was also accused by Kathryn Mayorga, who claimed the player raped her at a hotel in Las Vegas in 2009.
She is said to have then reached an out-of-court settlement with the footballer for an amount of $375,000 in 2010.
However, Kathryn later filed a complaint against Ronaldo almost a decade later, saying her emotional trauma at the time did allow her to take him on.
Ronaldo denied the allegations and the lawsuit was dismissed by a US judge in June 2022 after Kathryn’s lawyer was found to have relied on leaked and stolen records.
Former Watford midfielder Ashley Charles was also cleared after being accused of rape and assault.
The footballer was accused of having sex with the woman as she slept at an East End hotel room while his friend Dennon Lewis was sleeping nearby.
After maintaining that he was innocent, Charles was tried at the Snaresbrook crown court and was found not guilty.
In 2014, Franck Ribery was accused of statutory rape after allegedly sleeping with an underage prostitute.
The footballer, however, denied knowingly paying for sex with the underage girl – a crime which could land culprits a three-year sentence.
The former Bayern Munich star was later cleared on all charges after prosecutors admitted the charges were impossible to prove.
Benzema’s case is related to Ribery’s. In fact, both players were accused of the same crime and were said to have been involved with the same teenage girl.
However, like Ribery, the Real Madrid striker was also cleared on all charges after prosecutors admitted the charges were impossible to prove.