Cristiano Ronaldo was left off Portugal's national team squad for a pair of upcoming matches, the decision coming Thursday as the soccer great fights a rape allegation in the United States.
Ronaldo has been accused of rape by Kathryn Mayorga, who says the player assaulted her in Las Vegas in 2009. He has denied the accusation.
Ronaldo was left off the squad for Portugal's second game in the UEFA Nations League at Poland on Oct. 11 and a friendly match in Glasgow against Scotland three days later.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said Ronaldo also will not be called up for the next round of international games in November.
Santos said the decision was taken after a conversation between him, Ronaldo and the head of the Portuguese soccer federation.
"We agreed the player wouldn't be available, wouldn't be an option for selection," Santos said. "For the next two squad selections, this one and the one next month, Ronaldo won't be with us."
Santos refused to give details of the conversation, nor would he comment on Ronaldo's state of mind, saying the information was private and personal. He said he expected Ronaldo to play again for Portugal eventually.
U.S. & World
Ronaldo also missed Portugal's first two post-World Cup matches last month, with Santos saying then that Ronaldo had only just moved to Italian club Juventus and was still settling down there.
Santos used the 33-year-old team captain's absence last month to try out younger players.
Meanwhile, pressure built on Ronaldo from his sponsors after Nike joined EA Sports in expressing its deep concern with the rape allegation facing the soccer star.
The five-time world player of the year has denied the claim. Late Thursday night, he received public backing from his Italian club, Juventus, shortly after Nike issued its statement to The Associated Press.
Nike has had a contract with the 33-year-old Ronaldo, one of the wealthiest and most famous soccer players in the world, since 2003. The latest terms signed in 2016 are worth a reported $1 billion and Ronaldo has suggested that it was a deal "for life."
But the Beaverton, Oregon-based apparel maker is troubled by the details emerging in a lawsuit filed last week in a Nevada state court by a woman who alleges she was raped by Ronaldo in Las Vegas in 2009.
"We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation," Nike said in an emailed statement to the AP.
Ronaldo wears Nike boots and appears in its advertising.
Ronaldo, who is nearing the end of his playing career, is a national hero in Portugal and the country's best-known celebrity. He is the country's most experienced player with 154 national team appearances, and its all-time highest scorer with 85 goals.
Earlier Thursday, Ronaldo arrived at a Juventus practice session driving in a dark gray Mercedes with tinted windows. The practice was closed to the media.
Lawyers for Mayorga said Wednesday that their client has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and depression, conditions they argue would have made her legally incompetent to reach a non-disclosure agreement.
Mayorga didn't appear with her lawyers at a news conference in Las Vegas the same day that Ronaldo denied the rape accusations, using Twitter to say he had a "clear conscience" as he awaits results "of any and all investigations."
"I firmly deny the accusations," he said. "Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in. Keen as I may be to clear my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense."
Mayorga's attorney Larissa Drohobyczer told reporters the psychiatrist's recent medical opinion was that Mayorga's psychological injuries were "caused by Cristiano Ronaldo's sexual assault in 2009."
The doctor, Norton Roitman in Las Vegas, did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.
Mayorga suffered several months of severe emotional stress and coercion by Ronaldo's representatives to push Mayorga into taking a monetary settlement to keep quiet, her lawyers said.
"These injuries rendered Kathryn incompetent to participate in the negotiations and settlement and nondisclosure in 2010," Drohobyczer said.