Brazilian club Santos has decided to suspend the deal to sign former Real Madrid and Brazil star Robinho back to his former club after sponsors reportedly threatened to pull their money over the player’s rape conviction in Italy.

Robinho was found guilty of rape in 2017 and sentenced to nine years in prison, but has appealed the verdict and the case remains open.

The Brazilian attempted to head home to continue his career with his former club, who agreed a short-term deal with the player last week, but pushback from the club’s sponsors has forced the club into suspending the deal.

A statement from the club, issued via Twitter said, “Santos and Robinho have by mutual agreement resolved to suspend the contract signed on 10 October so that player can concentrate exclusively on his court defense in Italy.”

The player also posted a message via his Instagram page, saying, “To Santos fans and people who like me, rest assured I am going to prove my innocence to you.”

The Brazilian started his career with Santos before moving to Europe to become a star for Real Madrid, Manchester City and AC Milan, and hoped to continue his career back home in Brazil.