Reuters / Rafael Marchante
Cristiano Ronaldo’s club Real Madrid and management company Gestifute have leant their support to the forward following accusations of tax evasion by the Spanish capital’s regional state prosecutor.
The 32-year-old, who was recently recognised by Forbes as the world’s highest-paid athlete, is alleged to have defrauded the Spanish authorities out of €14.7 million ($16 million) in unpaid taxes by deliberately using a business structure which hid considerable income from his image rights.
In addition to his salary – worth $58 million a year, according to Forbes – he earns an annual $35 million in sponsorship deals, and is also bringing in cash from his CR7 brand which has a line of hotels, underwear, and even branded blankets in an ever-growing portfolio.
“It is clear that the football player did not try to evade taxes,” said the Jorge Mendes-owned firm Gestifute in a lengthy statement, with translation from BBC Sport.
Gestifute also notes that the Spanish prosecutor filed a complaint against Ronaldo, rather than a lawsuit.
Another client of Mendes, Monaco’s Radamel Falcao, is embroiled in a tax evasion case as well, and the agent was summoned to a Spanish court as part of that probe, legal sources said on Wednesday.
(Photo courtesy: Action Images)
Real Madrid, which Ronaldo has represented since 2009, said in its own statement that it understands its all-time top scorer “acted in accordance with the legality regarding the fulfilment (sic) of his fiscal obligations.”
The announcement added: “Real Madrid C.F. are absolutely convinced that our player, Cristiano Ronaldo, will prove his total innocence in this process.
“Real Madrid C.F. hope that justice is done as quickly as possible so that his innocence can be proven as soon as possible.”
Ronaldo confidently brushed off suggestions of tax evasion back in December, saying, “he who owes nothing has nothing to fear.”
Lionel Messi, Ronaldo’s chief adversary who plies his trade for Barcelona, was involved in a similar case with his father Jorge last year. In July 2016, the Argentinian was sentenced to 21 months jail time, but didn’t spend time behind bars as non-violent, first-time crimes incurring a term of less than two years are regularly suspended in Spain.