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Brazil's Santos suspend Robinho's contract amid public outcry

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Santos have suspended the contract of former Brazil international forward Robinho, the club announced on Friday.

Robinho, 36, rejoined Santos for a third stint this week, signing a five-month contract with the Sao Paulo side. However, the deal was met with public outrage in Brazil, which stemmed from a 2017 conviction for the former AC Milan and Manchester City man's involvement in the rape of a 22-year-old woman at a nightclub.

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"Santos Football Club and Robinho, by mutual consent, have resolved to suspend the contract signed on Oct. 10 in order for the player to concentrate exclusively on his defence in the ongoing case in Italy," the club said in a statement.

Robinho confirmed the news on Instagram, saying: "It's true that, with a lot of sadness in my heart, I come to tell you that I made the decision along with the [Santos] president to suspend my contract at this difficult time in my life."

"My goal always was to help Santos Football Club, and if I'm getting in the way, it's better that I leave and focus on my personal issues. To the [Santos] fans, those who love me, I will prove my innocence to you."

On Thursday, Brazilian orthodontics franchise Orthopride announced it had ended its sponsorship deal with the Sao Paulo giants "out of respect for women," and said the company had not been informed before Robinho was signed.

Robinho, who was a free agent, had signed a five-month contract with Santos that would have paid him $271 (R$1.500) a month, which is just above the Brazil's minimum wage.

He last played for Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir, helping them win their first Super Lig title last season.

Robinho shot to fame after making his professional debut as a teen with Santos in 2002. He has since played for Real Madrid, Guangzhou Evergrande and Atletico Mineiro, among other clubs.

He won two national championships, two Paulista tournaments and the Brazilian Cup in his previous two spells with Santos.

At international level, Robinho earned 100 caps for Brazil, scoring 28 goals. He participated in two World Cups for the five-time world champs.