Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo appears in court in tax fraud case

Portuguese forward allegedly failed to pay €14.7 million between 2011 and 2014

Over 200 reporters, some from as far away as China, joined dozens of onlookers outside a Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid) courthouse on Monday morning as Cristiano Ronaldo provided testimony as part of a tax fraud investigation.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been essential to the on-field fortunes of Real Madrid in recent years.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been essential to the on-field fortunes of Real Madrid in recent years.JAVIER SORIANO (AFP)

The Portuguese forward is facing four counts of fraud for tax evasion worth €14.7 million, committed between 2011 and 2014. He provided his testimony on Monday without the help of a translator, entering the court via the garage to avoid the crowds of onlookers, and leaving the same way despite hopes he might appear before the press.

Instead, a spokesperson for the player said he would not be making any statements.   

The case against Ronaldo is still at the investigation stage, which means that no members of the public will be allowed inside the courtroom. But security is tight outside the courthouse, located in an upscale suburb of the Spanish capital.

The 32-year-old player allegedly used a corporate structure created in 2010, the year after he signed with Real Madrid, in order to “conceal from tax authorities his income in Spain from his image rights.”

Cristiano Ronaldo is not the first famous soccer player to face similar charges. On May 24, the Supreme Court ratified a conviction against Barça forward Lionel Messi for tax fraud.

Under Spanish legislation, evaded amounts upwards of €120,000 a year become a crime punishable with one to five years in prison. Cristiano Ronaldo’s alleged fraud surpassed this threshold every year between 2011 and 2014.

The player reportedly told fellow players on the Portuguese national team that he wanted to leave Spain because he felt as if he were being treated as a criminal. He did not join Real Madrid for the International Champions Cup, which saw the team lose 3-2 against Barcelona in Miami on Saturday.

English version by Susana Urra.


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