'I'm only here because my name is Ronaldo'

Global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) arriving at Thomson Medical Centre during a trip to Singapore last month.
Global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) arriving at Thomson Medical Centre during a trip to Singapore last month.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LISBON • Real Madrid star forward Cristiano Ronaldo said on Tuesday his "brilliance" annoys people, a day after he was quizzed by a Spanish judge investigating whether he evaded paying millions of euros in taxes.

"What bothers people is my brilliance, insects only attack lamps that shine," the Portuguese wrote in an Instagram message that received over a million "likes" within an hour of being posted.

Ronaldo spent over 90 minutes on Monday answering the questions of investigating judge Monica Gomez at a closed-door hearing in Pozuelo de Alarcon, the wealthy suburb of Madrid where he lives.

Prosecutors accuse the four-time World Player of the Year of having evaded €14.7 million (S$ 23.63 million) in tax.

Ronaldo, 32, has denied any wrongdoing. He told the judge he has always filed his tax returns and "never had the intention of evading taxes", according to a statement from his representatives.

Spanish daily El Mundo said the player - the world's highest-paid athlete, according to Forbes magazine - implied during his court hearing that he was being investigated only because of who he is.

"I am here only because my name is Cristiano Ronaldo," the Portuguese international told the judge, according to the newspaper.

He had been expected to speak to the throng of reporters gathered outside the court after the hearing but instead his spokesman Inaki Torres emerged from the building to announce the player "was on his way home", prompting jeers from the press.

Portuguese television SIC reported that Ronaldo aborted the appearance at the podium set-up outside the court because the court hearing had gone badly, with many moments of "tension" between him and the judge.

He is not the only footballer to fall foul of authorities in Spain.

His rival, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, was found guilty of tax evasion last year.

Other footballers have also recently run into trouble with Spain's taxman, some of them already convicted and others under investigation.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2017, with the headline ''I'm only here because my name is Ronaldo''. Print Edition | Subscribe