Ronaldo appears in court on tax charges

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo appeared in a Spanish court on Monday to face allegations he evaded paying millions in tax.

Spanish prosecutors accuse the footballer – believed to be the world’s highest paid athlete – of failing to pay nearly €15m in tax.

They claim Ronaldo took “advantage of a company structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities”.

The action, they say, was a “voluntary and conscious breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain”.

Dozens of TV crews and scores of journalists descended on the small court in the Madrid suburb of Pozeulo on Monday, but Ronaldo was able to avoid the press entirely by entering the court via an underground garage.

It was believed the Portuguese striker would address the press after his pre-trial hearing, but after spending an hour-and-a-half giving evidence to judges, he left without saying a word.

He has previously denied the allegations, saying his “conscience is clear”.

Ronaldo is not the first footballer to be accused of dodging tax in Spain.

Fellow superstar Lionel Messi was handed a 21-month prison sentence after being found guilty of the same charge last year – although the court subsequently ruled he could pay €252,000 in place of jail time.

Messi was only accused of evading €4.1m in tax – €10.6m less than Ronaldo.

If found guilty, Ronaldo could face a three-and-a-half year prison sentence and a huge fine of at least €28m.

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