Jailed Ronaldinho facing multiple issues off the pitch

Ronaldinho and his brother Roberto de Asis handcuffed and escorted by police at the Supreme Court of Paraguay. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 March 2020

Jailed Ronaldinho facing multiple issues off the pitch

  • Ronaldinho and his brother Roberto de Assis are jailed after they arrived in Asunción on Wednesday with fake passports

SAO PAULO: Retired soccer star Ronaldinho and his brother are in jail in Paraguay after being accused of entering the country using fake passports. It was the latest in a string of incidents involving the 2002 World Cup winner and Barcelona icon, who officially retired in 2018 after several lackluster seasons.
Here is a look back at some of the issues the Brazilian has faced off the pitch in recent years.
Ronaldinho and his brother Roberto de Assis are jailed after they arrived in Asunción on Wednesday with fake passports. Their lawyer Sérgio Queiroz confirmed the documents were false, but argued they were a gift from a businessman, who has also been jailed.
Ronaldinho and Assis had said they went to Asunción for business reasons. It is unclear why the former footballer entered Paraguay using the passport considering Brazilians can enter the neighboring country using their national ID card. A local prosecutor told Brazilian media the former footballer will be investigated for other alleged crimes, but did not reveal what these were.
The Instituto Ronaldinho Gaúcho (IRG), which was closed in the end of 2010, was investigated on two occasions due to allegedly irregular contracts with the Porto Alegre city hall. The first probe came in 2012, with city councillors claiming that more than $100,000 was paid to the educational institute led by Ronaldinho. That investigation ended after politicians decided there was no ill intent by the footballer and his brother in the case.
Three years later, state of Rio Grande do Sul prosecutors sought to open another case that was based on the 2012 probe, but this time they claimed the irregularities amounted to about $300,000. A judge later ruled there were no grounds to sentence the brothers.
Ronaldinho was fined for building an illegal fishing platform and dock on the shores of the Guaiba river in his hometown of Porto Alegre in 2015. He challenged the decision for years until a judge seized his passport, claiming he had to pay damages of about $2 million.
Despite not having his passport, Ronaldinho became a tourism ambassador for the administration of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in September. Later, he paid the fine and had his documents returned.
The former footballer has been under investigation since the start of the year because of his links with a cryptocurrency company called 18kRonaldinho, which promised lucrative returns. Victims told media the initiative was actually a pyramid scheme and demanded damages of more than $65 million from the company. Ronaldinho’s lawyer says he is not involved with it.
Barcelona distanced itself from its former star’s support of Bolsonaro, a fringe far-right congressman who rose to power in 2019. After the former footballer endorsed Bolsonaro, club spokesman Josep Vives said in a press conference in 2018 that Barcelona’s democratic values “do not coincide with the words we have heard from the candidate (Bolsonaro).”
Vives added that Barça supports freedom of speech, but Ronaldinho has been a less frequent attendee of club events since. He used to be paid about 100,000 euros for each appearance.
Newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported in July that Ronaldinho had multiple debts amounting to more than $2 million. At least four properties belonging to the former soccer star have been auctioned by a court in Rio Grande do Sul state.

Spurs stunned by Antwerp, Milan cruise to victory

Updated 24 min 12 sec ago

Spurs stunned by Antwerp, Milan cruise to victory

  • The surprise win takes Antwerp to the top of the early Group J table after their opening 2-1 victory at Ludogorets

PARIS: Tottenham Hotspur slumped to a shock 1-0 Europa League defeat at Royal Antwerp on Thursday, while Serie A leaders AC Milan eased to victory over Sparta Prague.

Jose Mourinho’s Spurs failed to create a single chance of note in a lifeless display, with Gareth Bale, who rejoined the club on loan from Real Madrid in the close-season, lasting less than an hour before being substituted.

The surprise win takes Antwerp to the top of the early Group J table after their opening 2-1 victory at Ludogorets last week.

The Belgian outfit are playing in the main stage of a European competition for the first time since a UEFA Cup first-round loss to Newcastle United in 1994.

The hosts took the lead just before the half-hour mark, with Dieumerci Mbokani robbing makeshift Spurs center-back Ben Davies before feeding Israeli forward Lior Refaelov to drill a fierce shot into the corner.

Antwerp wasted a golden chance to double the lead in the 54th minute, as Congolese striker Mbokani contrived to fire the ball over an open net when only three yards from goal.

Mourinho threw on Harry Kane and Son Heung-min for Bale and Dele Alli in search of an equaliser, but again it was their opponents who should have scored when Norwegian wing-back Simen Jukleroed ran clean through on goal and blazed wildly over the bar.

Spurs dominated possession but never seriously threatened, and the Antwerp players were able to celebrate a famous triumph in an empty stadium.

Milan made it two wins from two in Group H with a 3-0 success over Sparta, despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing a first-half penalty.

Goals from Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leao and on-loan Manchester United wing-back Diogo Dalot saw Milan extend their unbeaten run to 24 matches in all competitions.

Stefano Pioli’s side sit two points clear of Lille at the top of the group, after the French outfit fought back from two goals down to grab a 2-2 home draw with Celtic.

Jamie Vardy netted a spot-kick as Leicester City made it back-to-back victories in Group G with a 2-1 win at AEK Athens, while Paco Alcacer scored a late double as Villarreal saw off Qarabag 3-1 in Group I.


Juve need to find a way to win without Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo’s status remains unclear going into this weekend’s Serie A games, which means Juventus may have to finally find a way to win without him.

Ronaldo has yet to be cleared to return after testing positive for the coronavirus more than two weeks ago, and his absence has been keenly felt by a young Juventus side which is going through a transition under new coach Andrea Pirlo.

The nine-time defending Serie A champion has drawn its last two league matches without Ronaldo — against last-place Crotone and Hellas Verona — and was outclassed by Barcelona in a 2-0 loss in the Champions League on Wednesday.

On paper, though, Juventus should still be able to beat newly promoted Spezia on Sunday even if Ronaldo can’t play. But the Bianconeri have only won 55% percent of their matches without Ronaldo since the Portuguese star joined from Real Madrid in 2018, and are in danger of slipping behind in the domestic title race.

The two recent draws has left it four points leader AC Milan, which tries to extend its unbeaten record when it travels to Udinese on Sunday.

Ronaldo is also struggling to watch from the sidelines as he remains in quarantine in his house in Turin.