Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho has been arrested in Paraguay after he along with his brother were caught with illegal passports.
Arguably one of the greatest to have ever played the ‘beautiful game’, Ronaldinho, 39, and his brother Roberto de Assis, 49, were found presidential suite at the Resort Yacht and Golf Club, some 15km south of the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion. He said that he was in the country for a charity event.
Ronaldinho and his brother were not taken to the police station but remain under custody and are obliged to go to the prosecutor’s office on Thursday.
“(Ronaldinho and his brother) are not being detained, they are still under judicial investigation and they have to testify. Then it will be decided whether they will be arrested or not,” Paraguay’s interior minister Euclides Acevedo told ESPN Brasil.
He further added that the pair believe that they were tricked by a man who was accompanying them, who has since been arrested and are cooperating in the investigation.
“Mr Ronaldinho has a false passport. That is a crime and that’s why his arrest has been ordered,” Paraguay’s interior minister Euclides Acevedo told local radio station AM 1080. “I respect his sports popularity, but the law needs to be respected no matter who you are.”
Acevedo said that an investigation was “ongoing”, adding that more information would be shared with the public at a press conference on Thursday morning, local time.
“Ronaldinho will be heard at eight in the morning on Thursday at the prosecutor’s office,” Acevedo told reporters.
“We are also investigating the responsibility of the authorities who allowed them to enter the country with falsified documents,” Acevedo said.
Paraguayan and Brazilian media reported that Ronaldinho and Assis, who is the former Barcelona playmaker’s agent, remained at the hotel under police watch after their arrest.
The brothers arrived in Paraguay on Wednesday morning to participate in a children’s charity campaign and to publicise a new book about Ronaldinho’s career.
It is not the first passport controversy to engulf Ronaldinho and Assis. In November 2018, they had their travel documents seized by Brazilian authorities after failing to pay a fine resulting from a 2015 court case.
The pair recovered the passports last September — effectively ending a 10-month foreign travel ban — upon accepting a million-dollar fine for building a fishing platform without environmental permits.
Ronaldinho retired from football in 2018 after a career that included a World Cup triumph in 2002 and two FIFA World Player of the Year awards.