Football megastar Cristiano Ronaldo appeared in court near Madrid for his trial, the player was accused of evading millions of euros in taxes, the latest player to fall foul of Spain’s taxman. The 32-year-old entered the court in Pozuelo de Alarcon, a wealthy suburb of Madrid where he lives, in a car with tainted windows via an underground garage to avoid the glare of the dozens of cameras gathered outside.
The player is expected to speak to the press after his court hearing. A podium was set up outside the courthouse behind metal barriers. 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.
Prosecutors accuse the four-time world player of the year of evading tax via a shell company based in the British Virgin Islands and another in Ireland, known for low corporate tax rates. In addition, they say the Real Madrid striker only declared 11.5 million euros of Spanish-related income from 2011 to 2014, while what he really earned during that time was close to 43 million euros.
And finally, they accuse him of “voluntarily” refusing to include 28.4 million euros in income linked to the sale of his image rights for the 2015 to 2020 period to a Spanish company. Ronaldo is expected to declare himself not guilty during his closed door court appearance. He has defended himself, saying his “conscience is clear”.
Ronaldo is not the only footballer to fall foul of authorities in Spain, which is only just recovering from a damaging economic crisis that saw countless people lose their jobs and inequalities rise.