Football

Ronaldo summoned for tax hearing

Real Madrid star facing fraud charges through offshore firms from 2011-2014

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, accused of evading 14.7 million euros (S$22.8m) in tax, has been summoned to appear before a judge in Spain, judicial sources told AFP yesterday.

The 32-year-old Portugal captain is facing four charges of fraud through offshore companies from 2011 and 2014.

The hearing will take place on July 31 in a court at Pozuelo de Alarcon, in the suburbs of Madrid, according to Spanish press reports.

Prosecutors accuse Ronaldo, who is the world's highest-paid athlete according to Forbes magazine, of evading tax via two companies based in the British Virgin Islands and Ireland.

The four-time World Player of the Year said last week that his "conscience is clear" and is threatening to leave Real over the affair.

But club president Florentino Perez insisted that Ronaldo will be staying at the Spanish giants and no offer has been received.

The sulking CR7 has been linked to Manchester United and other top clubs after reportedly threatening to leave Real and quit Spain after running into problems with tax authorities.

"Ronaldo is a Real player and will continue to be so as far as we are concerned," Perez told Marca sports daily yesterday.

"No offer has been received for him."

Something really bizarre would have to happen for him to leave this club. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, on Ronaldo

According to media reports, Ronaldo is unsettled at Madrid because he believes Real did not back him as fully as he had hoped in his dispute with the taxman.

He has also complained on multiple occasions in the past about his treatment at the hands of Real supporters, who have resorted to jeering and booing his performances on the pitch.

In an earlier report, Marca said Ronaldo has told his teammates he was leaving and "there is no turning back".

Portuguese sports daily A Bola had also claimed that Perez had already been informed of his decision.

However, Perez said that he had not spoken to Ronaldo, who is on duty for Portugal at the ongoing Confederations Cup in Russia.

RELEASE CLAUSE

Even so, Perez said he was convinced Ronaldo would stay and affirmed that his Real contract was protected 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 for him to leave this club."

Perez said 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 player a delinquent.

Perez, a 70-year-old construction magnate, was elected unopposed on Monday for a third term in charge of Europe's most successful club.

He also revealed yesterday that Real turned down the opportunity to sign goalkeeper David de Gea from Man United last summer, while playing down the possibility of bidding for the Spain international again.

Real were on the verge of bringing former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper de Gea back to Spain in 2015 but the move, which included sending Real custodian Keylor Navas to United as a makeweight, was derailed as the clubs failed to close the deal during the transfer window.

Perez added that Real were not looking to replace Navas or deputy Kiko Casilla.

"Two years ago, we had the disaster of the late fax, they (United) sent it two minutes late and that was it," Perez said.

"Last year, we had the chance to sign him, but we didn't take it and now we don't have any agreement with Manchester United to sign him. The truth is we have great goalkeepers."

Perez, however, confirmed that Real had signed defender Theo Hernandez from local rivals Atletico, even though the move is not official yet. - WIRE SERVICES

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