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Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has accepted a two-year prison sentence and €18.8 million fine for tax evasion, reported El Mundo on Friday. The report came out just hours before rivals Spain and Portugal face off in the World Cup.
The 33-year-old Portuguese national is unlikely to serve jail time, however. In Spain, a sentence of under two years for a first-time offence can be served on probation.
Ronaldo, who is accused of evading €14.7 million in taxes, has previously denied all the allegations through his agents.
The match between Portugal and Spain kicks off at 20:00 CEST in Russia’s Fisht Stadium.
Crackdown on players in Spain
Ronaldo isn’t the only football superstar to face criminal charges for tax evasion in Spain. FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi was slapped with a 21-month prison sentence in 2017 for similar charges but did not see jail time. Under Spanish law, the Argentine player was able to swap the penalty for a €252,000 fine, which totalled to €400 for each day of the sentence.
Both Messi and his father were found guilty of defrauding Spain of more than €4 million between 2007-2009.
Spanish courts allowed Messi’s father, Jorge, to pay a €180,000 fine to replace his 15-month sentence.