Cristiano Ronaldo’s yearslong tax evasion saga finally came to an end on Tuesday when the football superstar cut a deal with a Madrid court over tax evasion charges, accepting an €18.8 million ($21.32 million) fine.
After a judge refused Ronaldo’s request to appear via video conference, he was greeted by a large media presence outside the court. Unfazed, he arrived with a wide grin on his face, even giving the “thumbs up” to the cameras.
The deal also includes a 23-month jail sentence for Ronaldo. But fortunately for the Juventus star, in Spain, convicts do not usually do time for sentences under two years. The non-violent nature of Ronaldo’s offenses means he is unlikely to spend any time at all in jail, and will instead serve 23 months of probation, according to the BBC.
As part of the deal, Ronaldo acknowledged that he owed €5.7 million euros ($6.5 million) earned from lucrative image-use rights deals. Ronaldo allegedly used shell corporations based offshore to avoid paying taxes. Prosecutors described the tax dodge as a “voluntary and conscious” breach of tax laws, while Ronaldo’s lawyer has characterized it as a “mistake” and a “misunderstanding”.
Ronaldo’s court appearance lasted only a few minutes as he swiftly accepted the prosecutors’ deal.
The five-time winner of Europe’s Ballon d’Or – often cited as one of the world’s best players – was accused of avoiding paying tax in Spain between 2010 and 2014, when he was playing for Real Madrid, and living in Madrid. Forbes has listed Ronaldo as the third-wealthiest athlete in the world. He is estimated to earn some $108 million annually.