Ron­aldo court­ing re­turn to Eng­land

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

MADRID — Cris­tiano Ron­aldo told a Span­ish court he “would like to re­turn to Eng­land” due to his tax trou­bles in Spain, Span­ish ra­dio sta­tion Cadena Ser re­ported on Satur­day.

The Real Madrid star was called to tes­tify in court last Mon­day over ac­cu­sa­tions he evaded 14.7 mil­lion euros ($17.3 mil­lion) in tax on his im­age rights via a com­pli­cated web of shell com­pa­nies based in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands and Ire­land.

How­ever, Ron­aldo has in­sisted he did not cre­ate a “spe­cial struc­ture” to man­age his im­age rights when he moved to Real in 2009 but sim­ply main­tained the one set up in 2004 while he was at Manchester United.

That struc­ture had been rec­om­mended to the Por­tuguese captain by United via its spe­cial­ist sports lawyer Chris Far­nell.

“Chris told me it was what all the foot­ballers did and I didn’t want to be an ex­cep­tion,” Ron­aldo added in court.

“On the field I al­ways want to be an ex­cep­tion, but off it I want to be like ev­ery­one else.”

If Ron­aldo is found guilty he faces a fine of at least 28 mil­lion euros ($33 mil­lion) and po­ten­tially a three-and-a-hal­fyear jail term, ac­cord­ing to the Gestha union of ex­perts at Spain’s In­land Rev­enue.

How­ever, de­spite be­ing just the lat­est in a se­ries of high- pro­file play­ers to be in­ves­ti­gated over their im­age rights in re­cent years, Ron­aldo be­lieves he is be­ing tar­geted due to his fame.

“If I wasn’t called Cris­tiano Ron­aldo I wouldn’t be here,” the 32-year-old also re­port­edly told the court.

The four-time World Player of the Year posted a mes­sage on so­cial-me­dia site In­sta­gram on Tues­day which read: “What both­ers peo­ple is my bril­liance, in­sects only at­tack lamps that shine!!!!”

Ron­aldo re­turned to train­ing with his Madrid team­mates on the week­end for the first time since lift­ing the Cham­pi­ons League tro­phy in June.

Madrid coach Zine­dine Zi­dane had given Ron­aldo an ex­tended break due to his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup with Por­tu­gal and his court ap­pear­ance.

SER­GIO PEREZ / REUTERS

Throngs of me­dia gather out­side the court­house where Real Madrid star Cris­tiano Ron­aldo was tes­ti­fy­ing on tax-fraud charges in Pozuelo de Alar­con, Madrid last week.

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