Drinks giant Coca-Cola vowed today to stand by shamed England footballer Wayne Rooney after he admitted visiting prostitutes.
The company, which has a sponsorship deal with the Everton star, backed the 18-year-old striker following revelations in a Sunday newspaper that he had been to a brothel in his home city Liverpool.
A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Great Britain said Rooney’s indiscretions were at odds with the company’s image but insisted “everyone deserves a second chance”. She said: “We’re with him for his footballing ability and still believe that he is a great talent on the football pitch. “While the recent revelations about his private life are inconsistent with Coca-Cola values, we know he regretted his mistakes and we believe that everyone deserves a second chance. We now hope that he will fully demonstrate that he will put this behind him, commit himself to taking full responsibility for his actions on and off the field, and concentrate on fulfilling his fantastic potential on the pitch.”
Rooney’s contract with Coca-Cola, which he signed last year, runs until the end of the 2006 World Cup. Rooney also has an agreement with car makers Ford, which supplies him and his family with discounted vehicles. A spokeswoman for Ford UK said it did not have any formal sponsorship deal with the star. She added: “If Wayne and his family wish to continue driving our vehicles then they are more than welcome.” Sportswear firm Nike was also reported to be continuing its sponsorship deal with the star. The company was unavailable for comment today.
Rooney admitted he had been “young and stupid” following the newspaper reports. In a statement, he said: “I now regret it deeply and hope people may understand that it was the sort of mistake you make when you are young and stupid.” The revelations came as a further blow to his fiancee Coleen McLoughlin. Last month the couple were reported to have split up following claims that Rooney had slept with an escort girl. Coleen, also 18 and an aspiring actress, and Rooney are childhood sweethearts who met on the streets of Croxteth, in Liverpool, where they grew up.