Ronaldo appears in court over tax evasion claims
Madrid, Spain - Football megastar Cristiano Ronaldo appeared in court near Madrid on Monday accused of evading millions of dollars in taxes, the latest player to fall foul of Spain's taxman.
The 32 year old entered the court in Pozuelo de Alarcon, a wealthy suburb of Madrid where he lives, in a car with tainted windows via an underground garage to avoid the glare of the dozens of cameras gathered outside.
The Portuguese star - the world's highest paid athlete according to Forbes magazine - follows in the steps of his arch-rival, Barcelona forward and Argentina star Lionel Messi, who was found guilty of the same offence last year.
Other footballers have also recently run into trouble with Spain's taxman, some of them already convicted and others under investigation.
Prosecutors accuse Ronaldo of having evaded US$17.3mn in tax.
They allege he took "advantage of a company structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities".
They say this was a "voluntary and conscious breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain".
himself not guilty during his closed door court appearance. He has defended himself, saying his "conscience is clear".
His agent's company Gestifute has also denied any "fiscal set-up" and said "the player didn't hide anything".
But the allegations still took their toll on the man with the "CR7" brand.
According to press reports, Real's all-time top goalscorer, threatened to leave Spain over the affair, giving supporters a fright.
He has since hinted he will stay on, telling Spanish sports daily Marca that he would like to continue to win trophies for Real.
Since extending his contract last November until 2021, Ronaldo is the highest paid sports star in the world with US$93mn earned in 2016-2017, according to Forbes.
Ronaldo is expected to declare