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.
PARAGUAYAN PASSPORT
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.
INSTITUTO RONALDINHO GAUCHO INVESTIGATION
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.
ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME
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.
CRYPTOCURRENCY
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.
FAR-RIGHT SUPPORT
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.
HUGE DEBTS
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.


Five players out of French Open qualifying due to COVID-19

Updated 21 September 2020

Five players out of French Open qualifying due to COVID-19

  • The qualifiers will begin later on Monday, with the main draw set to commence on Sept. 27

PARIS: Five players have been withdrawn from the French Open qualifying tournament after two players and a coach tested positive for COVID-19, organizers have said.
The qualifiers will begin later on Monday, with the main draw set to commence on Sept. 27.
“The Roland Garros tournament directors can confirm that two players competing in the qualifying tournament have tested positive for COVID-19 and three others have confirmed close contact with a coach who has tested positive for COVID-19,” the French Tennis Federation (FFT) said in a statement.
“In line with tournament health protocols, the five players will not compete in the qualifying tournament and will self isolate for a period of seven days. In total, some 900 tests have been carried out since Sept. 17.”
Organizers did not reveal the names of those who had been pulled out but Damir Dzumhur said he had been withdrawn because his coach Petar Popović had returned a positive test.
“That’s why I can’t play at Roland Garros and I don’t have a chance to compete,” he wrote on his Instagram account.
“He didn’t get a chance to do a second test and we’re sure he was false positive because my coach has antibodies,” added the Bosnian, who reached the third round in Paris in 2015 and 2018.
The French Open will be held from Sept. 27-Oct. 11 after being moved from its usual late May-June slot.
The FFT is planning to allow 5,000 spectators per day following a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the country. It had previously said the claycourt major would permit a maximum of 11,500 fans per day.