Former Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho and his brother Roberto Assis, were arrested in Paraguay on Friday for allegedly using fake passports to enter the country.
The Ex-Brazilian forward and his brother set to face judge who will decide whether to free them or keep them in custody.
Paraguay’s Prosecutors said in a statement on Friday they were given the false documents when they landed in the capital Asuncion on Wednesday and were taken to a police station in the capital shortly before 10pm local time.
The former Barcelona forward and his brother, who is also his business manager, are expected to face a judge on Saturday (today) who will decide whether to free them or keep them in custody while investigations continue as their hotel was searched by police.
They deny wrongdoing and say they thought the passports were a courtesy gesture. Ronaldinho’s lawyer Sergio Queiroz confirmed the arrest to The Associated Press news agency and said his legal team in Paraguay had filed an injunction to release the former footballer and his brother.
In July 2019, the player reportedly had his Brazilian and Spanish passports confiscated over unpaid taxes and non-payment of fines for illegally building on a nature reserve in Brazil.
“I respect his sporting popularity but the law must also be respected. No matter who you are, the law still applies”, Mr Acevedo told local media earlier this week.
The 39-year-old and his brother had travelled to Paraguay to promote a book and a campaign for underprivileged children. They were invited to Paraguay by a local casino owner and had arrived on Wednesday to take part in a football clinic for children.
Gilberto Fleitas, the head of the investigations unit of the Paraguayan police, said the pair were taken into custody after a judge refused to ratify a prosecutor’s proposal for an alternative punishment.
Their unexpected arrest came just hours after the two brothers appeared set to leave Paraguay and draw a line under a tumultuous stay that began on Wednesday when they were questioned by police after presenting falsified passports on arrival at the Asuncion airport.
Although now retired, Ronaldinho remains hugely popular with football fans and was the 2004 and 2005 World Player of the Year and reached the prime of his career at Spanish giants Barcelona. He won the World Cup for Brazil in 2002 alongside fellow superstar forwards Ronaldo and Rivaldo.
Ronaldinho’s net worth is estimated at £80-100m and he is reported to charge around £150,000 for a single promoted Instagram post.