Ronaldo pleads guilty to tax fraud during Real Madrid spell and accepts suspended prison sentence

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Cristiano Ronaldo has pleaded guilty to tax charges relating to his time at Real Madrid and accepted a suspended prison sentence.

The Portuguese was in the Spanish capital on Tuesday to appear before a judge after being accused of defrauding authorities out of income generated through image rights.

Back in 2017, Ronaldo stated that he had never tried to avoid paying the relevant taxes on his income.

He was, however, accused by a state prosecutor of four counts of tax fraud from the period of 2011 to 2014. Ronaldo was said to have hidden €14.7m (£13m/$17m) in shell companies outside of Spain.

The accusations do not involve the salary he was paid by Real Madrid after joining the club from Manchester United in 2009.

He appeared in court as a ruling on his case was made.

In Spain, a judge can hand out a two-year suspended sentence for first-time offenders.

Ronaldo has accepted a 23-month judgement after reaching an agreement with the state prosecutor and the relevant tax authorities in 2018.

He will, however, have to pay out nearly €19m (£17m/$22m) in fines.

The 33-year-old opted to appear in court in person after declining the option to address a judge by video link.

His time in Madrid is not expected to last long having already reached a prior agreement with the authorities.

Ronaldo’s former team-mate, Xabi Alonso, may require a little longer, though, in resolving his case.

The ex-Liverpool midfielder also stands accused of defrauding tax authorities of approximately €2m (£1.8m) between 2010 and 2012.

Once again, the charges relate to income generated from image rights.

World Cup winner Alonso could be sentenced to five years in prison and fined €4m (£3.5m) on top of the money he already owes.

The 37-year-old, who retired in 2017, denies any wrongdoing.

Ronaldo and Alonso are not the first footballing figures to have been subjected to such investigations by Spanish tax authorities over recent years.

Lionel Messi, Jose Mourinho, Javier Mascherano, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Alexis Sanchez, Ricardo Carvalho, Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Fabio Coentrao have all faced similar charges.

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