The rape allegation Cristiano Ronaldo is fighting could lead to a jail sentence of 10 years.
And he could also lose £35million a year in sponsorship deals.
Sexual assault carries a life sentence in Las Vegas where teacher Kathryn Mayorga, 34, claims the footballer attacked her in 2009.
According to Nevada state laws which govern the city, he could apply for release on parole but only after serving 10 years behind bars.
Las Vegas police have re-opened an investigation into the allegation though at this stage Ronaldo, 33, who “firmly” denies the claims, has not been arrested or charged in connection with any crime.
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Should he be convicted by a criminal court, sponsors who currently pay him £35m a year would be certain to sever all ties with him.
He would also face paying out millions to Ms Mayorga if she won a separate civil claim for damages over the alleged attack in his penthouse suite at the Palms Place hotel.
Attorney Larissa Drohobyczer, who is part of Ms Mayorga’s legal team, said: “Cristiano Ronaldo will have 20 days from the date of service of the lawsuit to answer our complaint in Kathryn Mayorga’s case.”
Ms Mayorga accepted a £286,000 out-of-court settlement from the Juventus star after threatening to sue him nine years ago.
At the time she signed a confidentiality agreement never to discuss her allegation.
But after seeing coverage of the #MeToo campaign on alleged sex crimes in Hollywood, she hired new lawyers who hope to overturn the old agreement.
They say Ms Mayorga suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder and learning difficulties and was too vulnerable following her alleged ordeal to agree to the settlement.
Legal analyst Michael McCann said: “Mayorga and her attorney will demand millions of dollars from Ronaldo at the appropriate time in the litigation.”