Real Madrid and Portugal legend, Cristiano Ronaldo will appear in court near Madrid today accused of evading millions of euros in taxes.
He is the latest football player to fall foul of Spain’s taxman.
The 32-year-old will be questioned by a court in Pozuelo de Alarcon, a wealthy suburb of Madrid where he lives, after returning from a summer break with his girlfriend and relatives and a promotion trip to China.
The Portuguese star — the world’s highest paid athlete according to Forbes magazine — follows in the steps of his arch-rival, Barcelona forward and Argentina star Lionel Messi, who was found guilty of the same offence last year.
Other footballers have also recently run into trouble with Spain’s taxman, some of them already convicted and others under investigation.
Prosecutors accuse Ronaldo of having evaded 14.7 million euros ($17.3 million) in tax.
They allege he took “advantage of a company structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities”.
But the allegations still took their toll, and the man with the “CR7” brand. According to press reports, Real’s all-time top goalscorer, threatened to leave Spain over the affair, giving supporters a fright.
He has since hinted he will stay on, telling Spanish sports daily Marca that he would like to continue to win trophies for Real.
If he were put on trial and found guilty, Ronaldo risks “a fine of at least 28 million” euros and could potentially be jailed for three-and-a-half years, the Gestha union of experts at Spain’s Inland Revenue has said.
Since extending his contract last November until 2021, Ronaldo is the highest paid sports star in the world with $93 million (79 million euros) earned in 2016-2017, according to Forbes.