Looks like tax evasion could be added to the Messi-Ronaldo debate…
According to El País, who first broke the story Tuesday, the Portuguese star forward for Real Madrid did not disclose some of his earnings to Spanish authorities between 2011 and 2014 by taking advantage of a image rights business structure and owes the Province of Madrid 14.7 million Euros ($16.5 million).
Ronaldo’s representatives strongly deny the charges, saying there were “never any attempts” to hide revenue “nor any intention to hide anything.”
Real Madrid also put out a statement showing support for the 2016 Ballon d’Or winner, stating they have “full confidence” that Ronaldo acted within the laws and are “absolutely convinced… [he] will prove his total innocence in the process.”
Ronaldo is coming off a season in which he and his club won four major titles, La Liga, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, and most recently (and perhaps importantly), the UEFA Champions League. The four trophies were the most in a single season in the club’s history and Ronaldo lead the way for Los Blancos with 52 goals in all competitions.
Ronaldo also helped lead Portugal to the UEFA Euro 2016 title, the first title for the national team in its history.
His main rival for the title of world’s best player, FC Barcelona and Argentina striker Lionel Messi, had his 2016 sentencing of 21 months in prison for three counts of tax fraud upheld last month by the Spanish Supreme Court, though its almost certain he’ll be able to serve probation rather than jail time.
The accusations trace back to December, when a website called Football Leaks published documents accusing several of the world’s biggest players and managers, including Ronaldo, of hiding image-based earnings from endorsements and photo shoots in the British Virgin Islands, a common tax haven. The reports were picked up by some of Europe’s biggest newspapers including El Mundo and Der Spiegel.
On May 25, only a day after Messi’s sentence was upheld, Spanish authorities first accused Ronaldo of tax fraud, which his representatives defending their client by saying he was “fully compliant with tax obligations.”
No date has been set yet for a trial. In the meantime, Ronaldo is in Russia with the Portugal National Team training for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, a precursor to the World Cup being held in the nation next year, which starts this upcoming weekend.