MADRID, Spain, Jun 20 – Cristiano Ronaldo’s woes deepened Tuesday when the star striker was summoned to appear before a judge investigating tax fraud.
Ronaldo, 32, said to have vowed that he would never play for Real Madrid again, was ordered to appear in a Madrid court on July 31 to answer four counts of tax evasion of Sh1.7billion ($16.5m).
Spain’s Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro urged media to respect the presumption of innocence regarding the four-time world player of the year.
“What is very important for me is to insist that no one is a criminal if he is not convicted,” Montoro told a press conference.
“That is why we must apply the principle of presumption of innocence in all areas.”
Unhappy Ronaldo has left his future at the Spanish giants in doubt after angrily announcing last week that his “conscience is clear.”
Spanish tax authorities are also targeting Jose Mourinho, the Manchester United manager who was on Tuesday accused of evading 3.3 million euro ($3.7 million) in tax during his stay at Real Madrid.
Montoro said, however, that sports stars must be “exemplary” and “particularly scrupulous in the fulfilment of their tax obligations” because their actions “radiate over the whole society, for example on youth, children”.
According to media reports Ronaldo is unsettled at Real Madrid because he believes the European champions did not back him as fully as he had hoped in his dispute with the taxman.
And he has also complained on multiple occasions in the past about Real supporters, who have resorted at times to jeering and booing his performance on the pitch.
However club president Florentino Perez disclosed that no offers had been received by Real to tempt Ronaldo away and the club was determined to keep him.
“Ronaldo is a Real player and will continue to be so as far as we are concerned,” Perez told Marca sports daily Tuesday. “No offer has been received for him.”
In an earlier report Marca said Ronaldo has told his teammates he was leaving and “there is no turning back”.
– Really bizarre –
However, Perez said that he had not spoken to Ronaldo, who is on duty for Portugal at the Confederations Cup in Russia, which ends on July 2.
He also confirmed that Ronaldo’s contract was ring-fenced by a one billion euro release clause.
“I have not spoken with him. We don’t want to disturb his concentration with the national team,” said Perez.
“But something really bizarre would have to happen if he were to leave this club.”
Perez said he could understood why Ronaldo had been upset after he was accused last week of tax fraud.
He said that Ronaldo had clearly done nothing wrong and Perez was appalled that the “presumption of innocence is not respected” by the media who have branded the played a delinquent.
As for Mourinho, Manchester United 54-year-old Portuguese coach, he stands accused of two counts of tax fraud while he coached Real Madrid from 2010 to 2013.
Perez, a 70-year-old construction magnate said to be close to Ronaldo, was elected unopposed Monday for a third term in charge of Europe’s most successful club.
His first big challenge is keeping Ronaldo at the club he joined in 2009 from Manchester United for a record 94 million euros ($105.3 million).
Perez has dismissed speculation that Ronaldo is trying to put pressure on Real so that they will bear some of the burden of an eventual fine for tax evasion as Barcelona did for Lionel Messi.
Manchester United have so far made no comment on reports they are interested in buying back the player for an estimated 200 million euros, on top of the release fee.
Since extending his contract in November until 2021, Ronaldo is according to Forbes the highest paid sports star in the world with $93 million (83m euro) in 2016-2017.
Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are also reported to be interested but Bayern Munich president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge denied the German champions would make an offer.