Wednesday, October 5, 2022

SPORTS | 05-03-2020 21:47

From Paraguay, Ronaldinho's lawyer denies fake passport allegation

Former Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho has been accused of arriving in Paraguay with a fake passport, though his lawyer denies the allegation.

Former Brazilian footballing megastar Ronaldinho has been detained by Paraguayan police for allegedly entering the country with a falsified passport.

Police raided the Brazil star's hotel room on Wednesday night and prosecutors said they found Paraguayan passports that had been falsified with data of Ronaldinho and his brother.

Prosecutor Federico Delfino said the brothers left Brazil using passports of that country, but entered Paraguay on Wednesday morning using Paraguayan documents.

“They are original passports, but with apocryphal data,” Delfino said.

He added Ronaldinho told investigators the people who brought him gave him the documents. Ronaldinho was in Paraguay to help a local foundation campaign for children's health, and to promote his new book.

The player was testifying before the country's organised crime unit on Thursday. He spent more than seven hours with the public prosecutor in Asunción.

Delfino said prosecutors have until late Thursday to decide if they will bring charges.

Ronaldinho won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil, the Champions League with Barcelona, the Copa Libertadores with Atletico Mineiro, the Ballon d'Or and two FIFA player of the year awards before retiring in 2015.

Ronaldinho's lawyer denied Thursday that he and his brother had used fake passports to enter the country.

"They decided voluntarily to stay and submit themselves to the public prosecutor's investigations," said Paraguayan lawyer Adolfo Marin.

Ronaldinho "didn't need to use any other document than his own," Marin added.

According to the inspector leading the investigation Gilberto Fleitas, Ronaldinho was given his fake passport by Brazilian businessman Wilmondes Sousa Lira, who has been arrested.

Marin said Ronaldinho had told the public prosecutor that the documents in question were given to him a month ago in Brazil.

Their fake documents were detected upon arrival at the Asunción international airport, according to lead prosecutor Delfino. 

The ex-Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain forward and his brother travelled using "doctored Paraguayan passports and fake identity cards," Delfino said.

Brazilian authorities withdrew Ronaldinho's passport in November 2018 after he failed to pay a US$2.5-million fine for environmental damage incurred during the building of a property in Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil.

However, Marin insisted that Ronaldinho had travelled with his own documents and was not subject to travel restrictions.

Marin added that the two Brazilians faced no restrictions on their movements

A source from the public prosecutor's office told AFP that neither risked arrest.

Interior minister Euclides Acevedo earlier said Ronaldinho's celebrity would not spare him.

"As an authority, we couldn't ignore this irregularity," he said, adding that those who allowed Ronaldinho into the country would also be investigated.

– AP

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