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Ronaldo agrees €18.8 million settlement with Spanish taxman

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to pay the Spanish taxman €18.8 million ($20 million) to settle a tax fraud claim, a legal source said Friday.

Ronaldo agrees €18.8 million settlement with Spanish taxman
Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly owes the Spanish taxman €28m. Photo: AFP

The deal between the fiscal authorities and the advisors of the star comes hours before Ronaldo’s Portugal face Spain in the World Cup in Russia.   

The agreement still has to be ratified and will likely come with a two-year jail term — although sentences of up to two years are not generally served in Spain.

The former Manchester United player, who is at the World Cup on the back of a third straight Champions League title with Real, appeared in court last July at Pozuelo de Alarcon, a wealthy Madrid suburb, to answer four counts of tax evasion.

Prosecutors allege the five-time Ballon d’Or winner took “advantage of a company structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities”.

He is alleged to have used companies in low-tax foreign jurisdictions — notably the British Virgin Islands and Ireland — to avoid having to pay the tax otherwise due.

In 2014, Spanish authorities say he was late in declaring that year just €11.5 millions of revenue earned in Spain for the period 2011-2014 when his earnings in his country of residence totalled €43 million. 

The Spanish taxman also found he did not declare €28.4 million in image rights agreed for 2015-2020, leaving 14.7 million owing. His legal team had blamed the affair on a simple different interpretation of which revenue he was obliged to declare in Spain.

In May, legal sources indicated that the Portuguese, the world’s highest paid sportsman last year with $93 million for 2016-2017 according to Forbes magazine, had proposed making a 14 million settlement.

Had the case gone further, without the player offering a full settlement, he could have faced a fine of a reported 28 millions euros as well as a three-and-a-half-year jail term, according to the Spanish tax office union Gestha.

Ronaldo’s big La Liga rival, Barcelona’s Argentinian star Lionel Messi, paid a two-million-euro fine in 2016 in his own tax wrangle and received a 21-month jail term, the latter reduced to a further fine of €252,000
equivalent to 400 euros per day of the original term.   

READ MORE: Messi tax fraud sentence reduced to fine

In a statement issued by the Gestifute sports agency which represents him, Ronaldo insisted last year that he had “never hidden anything, nor have I had the intention of evading taxes”.

Prosecutors had alleged a “voluntary and conscious breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain.”

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Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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