Ronaldo Era coming to an end in Real Madrid?
The (European) football world was set on fire Friday following reports that superstar Cristiano Ronaldo wants to quit Real Madrid and leave Spain this summer. The report surfaces following controversial accusations of tax evasion by the 32 year-old Portuguese player.
To be exact, Ronaldo is accused of evading tax of 14.7m euros (£13m; $16m) from 2011 to 2014.
In a statement, Ronaldo’s agency, Gestifute, said there had never been concealment, nor the slightest intention to conceal.
“It is clear that the football player did not try to evade taxes,” the company said.
According to representatives from Gestifute, the footballer made no effort to hide any income from the tax authorities nor did he attempt to defraud Spain.
Real Madrid later released a statement placing their “full confidence” in its player.
A Witch Hunt?
Nonetheless, Ronaldo is clearly fuming from what he perceives as clear ‘persecution.’ A source close to the footballer confirmed to ESPN FC that he’d prefer to play elsewhere in the coming season.
“He is outraged — feels great indignation with all the speculation about, for example, the tax story,” the source said. “And he believes he was unfairly and disproportionately singled out as an example, despite having voluntarily paid [taxes]. He is, in fact, a victim of persecution in Spain and [the situation has] reached its limit with so much injustice.
“So, he is determined to leave Spain, yes. Let’s see what will happen, but he is very, very mad with all these things.”
Truth or Simple Speculation?
The accusations emerged earlier this week when a Spanish state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of failing to pay the aforementioned sum on image rights earned between 2011 and 2014. The report says Ronaldo used a Virgin Islands-based shell company to hide his actual income.
Ronaldo has said multiple times that he would like to retire at Real Madrid. This past November, he signed a contract to stay with the club through 2021. But now, in light of the accusations and what he considers to be unfair treatment by the Spanish media, Ronaldo is second guessing that decision.
This is not the first time Spanish authorities have gone after big name footballers. Last summer, courts found Barcelona’s Lionel Messi guilty of tax evasion. They handed him a suspended 21-month sentence. In December, tax authorities pursued former Real Madrid players Xabi Alonso, Angel Di Maria and Ricardo Carvalho with tax charges, as well.
This is big news for a player who has played the whole of his career for Real Madrid. He could be facing up to five years in prison. So whether or not we’ll even see him playing in the coming years remains up in the air. It would be weird to see him in a different uni come next season, let alone an orange jumpsuit (or whatever color Spanish felons wear). But if the scrutiny continues, so too may speculation that Ronaldo wants out.