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.


Liverpool edge past Ajax to show they can cope without Van Dijk

Updated 41 min 13 sec ago

Liverpool edge past Ajax to show they can cope without Van Dijk

AMSTERDAM: Liverpool proved they can cope without Virgil van Dijk as Nicolas Tagliafico’s own goal sealed a 1-0 win at Ajax in the opening game of their Champions League campaign on Wednesday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are likely to be without Van Dijk for the rest of the season after the influential Dutch center-back suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage against Everton last weekend.
Critics have claimed Liverpool will struggle without Van Dijk, but Brazilian midfielder Fabinho filled in impressively alongside Joe Gomez at the heart of the defense.
While Liverpool weren’t at their best and rode their luck at times, never more so than when Tagliafico diverted Sadio Mane’s scuffed effort into his own net in the first half, it was an encouraging Group D opener for Klopp.
There was enough spirit about the 2019 Champions League winners to suggest they will use the Van Dijk blow to fuel their Premier League title defense and European challenge.
Van Dijk will need knee surgery after being pole-axed by Everton keeper Jordan Pickford’s ugly foul and his injury came at a time when Liverpool looked vulnerable after losing 7-2 at Aston Villa before the international break.
Against that backdrop, keeping a clean-sheet for just the third time this season was a big lift for Liverpool, who won for the first time in three games despite also being without defender Joel Matip and midfielder Thiago Alcantara after the brutal Merseyside derby.
Liverpool were playing Ajax in Amsterdam for the first time since losing to the great Johan Cruyff’s side in the 1966 European Cup.
As the only fit center-back, Gomez was under the spotlight and the 23-year-old provided an early scare when he got in a muddle with Liverpool keeper Adrian over a backpass.
Ajax couldn’t take advantage on that occasion, but Liverpool found it hard to establish any momentum.
Their makeshift defense was easily carved open when Quincy Promes advanced down the left and found Dusan Tadic, who set up Ryan Gravenberch for a fierce strike that flashed just wide.
There was another major scare moments later as David Neres’ pass found the unmarked Promes six yards from goal, but he shot straight at Adrian to let Liverpool off the hook.
Making the most of that escape, Liverpool took the lead in bizarre fashion in the 35th minute.
Mane eluded Perr Schuurs as he broke into the Ajax area but when the Senegal forward went to shoot, he stubbed his foot into the turf, sending a miscued effort toward Tagliafico, who lost his balance and prodded the ball into his own net under no pressure.
Klopp has been fostering a siege mentality among his players since the Everton game and their backs to the wall spirit was on full display when Fabinho raced back to clear Tadic’s lob off the line with a superb overhead kick.
Van Dijk couldn’t have done it better himself, but while Fabinho was impressing, Ajax still carried a threat.
Taking aim from the edge of the area, Davy Klaassen smashed a fierce strike off the far post in the first minute of the second half.
Ajax went close again when Noussair Mazraoui took a Neres cutback and forced Adrian into a fine save.
Klopp responded to their lethargy by taking off Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Mane, with the latter needing ice on his right leg as he sat on the bench.
Takumi Minamino, one of Klopp’s substitutes, nearly had an instant impact when his shot was almost spilled into the net by Andre Onana.
Jurgen Ekkelenkamp almost snatched a late equalizer after a mistake from Adrian, but Liverpool held their nerve to provide a morale-boosting start to life without Van Dijk.