World-renowned soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is in serious legal trouble in Spain, his home country — so serious, it will impact the next few years of his life. While Ronaldo is certainly not the first celebrity (or even the first soccer player) to face serious legal consequences for tax evasion, the repercussions are unusually severe.
News broke on Friday via The Daily Mail that Ronaldo accepted a steep $21 million fine (assessed in euros) and a two-year suspended prison sentence for tax evasion in Spain. The suspended sentence means that Ronaldo will not be incarcerated; instead, he will be on probation. While Ronaldo likely received the suspended sentence because he has no prior convictions, allowable under Spanish law, it’s safe to assume that if he were to violate the terms of his probation, things could quickly go from bleak to very bleak.
According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the charges against the soccer star were greatly reduced from what they were initially. These penalties related to, as the Mail writes, accusations made “by Spanish prosecutors in June last year of defrauding tax authorities.”
The money Ronaldo now owes breaks down as $5.8 million in back taxes (significantly reduced from the $17 million he would have had to pay originally) and interest and undisclosed fines required by the Spanish government.
It’s unclear how this sentence will affect Ronaldo’s professional life. As the BBC noted, the timing of the ruling couldn’t be more critical: hours before Ronaldo played for Portugal in a World Cup match against Spain at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Russia. However, he will likely continue to play in future matches.
Ronaldo’s financial responsibilities will likely feel a crunch with these fines. He welcomed a baby girl with girlfriend Georgina Rodríguez in November and is supporting three additional children from previous partners. But hey, at least he’s not headed behind bars.
Ronaldo has not released an official statement reacting to the ruling.