Football: Ronaldo's tax case may force his exit from Real

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating after winning the Champions League final against Juventus on June 3. Should Ronaldo choose to leave Real, only top-tier clubs with deep pockets like Manchester United or Paris Saint-Germain will be ab
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating after winning the Champions League final against Juventus on June 3. Should Ronaldo choose to leave Real, only top-tier clubs with deep pockets like Manchester United or Paris Saint-Germain will be able to afford his massive transfer fee and wages.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Forward is reportedly disillusioned and irate with the lawsuit filed by Spanish prosecutors

LISBON • Real Madrid officials are reportedly trying to calm down Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese sports daily A Bola said yesterday that the football superstar told the Spanish club that he wants to leave.

The Portuguese forward is apparently upset after being accused of committing tax fraud in Spain and, according to A Bola, was "deeply disenchanted" with the allegations against him.

Spanish prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against the player accusing him of defrauding tax authorities of €14.7 million (S$22.7 million) by hiding his image rights income between 2011 and 2014.

Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing Real officials said on Thursday that they were confident that he had acted legally.

The player responded to the charges by posting a picture on Instagram "shushing" at the camera, with the caption: "Sometimes the best answer it's to be quiet".

His management company, Gestifute, said: "It is clear that the player did not try to evade taxes."

According to Spanish sports daily Marca, Ronaldo expressed his annoyance and outrage at the treatment he received to Real president Florentino Perez and the club's transfer chief Jose Angel Sanchez, and made it clear that he does not want to play in Spain any more.

The paper noted that he believes he has been "used as an example in an unfair and disproportionate way" when he tried to solve possible errors with his taxes voluntarily.

Real's officials were stunned by his decision, but, according to Marca, believe they can persuade the 32-year-old four-time world player of the year to stay with the LaLiga outfit.

Ronaldo, who is at the Confederations Cup in Russia with the Portuguese national team, is the latest in a long line of football players in Spain - among them Barcelona forwards Lionel Messi and Neymar - to be caught up in cases over tax or transfers.

If Ronaldo were to leave, England's Manchester United and France's Paris Saint-Germain could be his possible European destinations because they are the only clubs that could afford his transfer fee and salary - which could hit £160 million (S$282 million).

Cash-rich Chinese clubs will likely be interested in him too.

Ronaldo had signed a new five-year contract to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu in November last year, declaring he is ready to play on until his 41st birthday.

He has completed eight seasons at Real since joining them from Manchester United in 2009 for a then world-record fee of €96 million.

During that time, they have won the Champions League three times and LaLiga twice.

Earlier this month, he led Real to their 12th European Cup after scoring a brace in a 4-1 win over Juventus in the final, becoming the Champions League's top scorer for the fifth year in a row .

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2017, with the headline 'Ronaldo's tax case may force real exit'. Print Edition | Subscribe