By TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo smiled broadly after leaving court Tuesday despite the unwanted trip back to Madrid to plead guilty to tax fraud.
The Juventus forward, who was facing charges stemming from his days at Real Madrid, spent about 45 minutes in court to sign an agreement which cost him nearly $21.6 million in fines. He was also given a two-year suspended sentence.
Ronaldo will not have to serve time in prison because judges in Spain can suspend sentences for two years or less for first-time offenders.
Ronaldo arrived in a black van and was wearing sunglasses, a black sports coat, black pants and white tennis shoes. He stopped to sign an autograph before walking up some stairs leading to the court house. He was accompanied by his lawyers and his partner, Georgina Rodriguez. Police officers escorted him.
A few hundred journalists waited outside but the Portuguese player did not stop to talk.
The court had dismissed Ronaldo’s request to enter the building directly from the parking lot, which would have allowed him to avoid the media. The request was made for security reasons, but the court said it didn’t think the measure was needed despite the player’s notoriety.
Court officials said Ronaldo didn’t make any comments while in the courtroom to sign the agreement.
Smiling on his way out of the court house, he again stopped to sign autographs for a few fans who were wedged among the journalists.
Ronaldo made the deal to plead guilty with Spain’s state prosecutor and tax authorities last year.
In 2017, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth $16.7 million. Ronaldo was accused of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights.
The accusations didn’t involve his salary from Real Madrid, his club from 2009 until joining Italian champion Juventus last year.
Separately, Ronaldo is facing a rape allegation in the United States.
Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada in September claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing.
Former Real Madrid player Xabi Alonso also was in court in Madrid on Tuesday. He is accused of defrauding tax authorities of about $2.3 million from 2010-12.
The retired Spain midfielder denied any wrongdoing after spending nearly three hours in the court house.
“I’ve done everything correctly, never tried to hide anything,” he said. “I’m confident justice will be done.”
Alonso had initially been found innocent but the case against him was reopened.
He could be sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $4.5 million, in addition to the amount allegedly defrauded. The charges are related to Alonso’s income from image rights. He played for Madrid from 2009-14.