The rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo just got ugly with the Real Madrid star outdoing his Barcelona nemesis in the worst way possible.
For the first time in years, Ronaldo overhauled Messi to claim the Ballon D’Or as the world’s best player. But now he’s been accused of being football’s biggest tax defrauder!
Spain’s prosecutor’s office in Madrid says it has filed a lawsuit against Ronaldo for allegedly defrauding Spanish authorities of $16.5m (£13m) between 2011 and 2014.
In a statement, the prosecutor’s office said Ronaldo had knowingly used a ‘business structure’ created in 2010 to hide his income in Spain from his image rights.
Prosecutors claim he used a Virgin Islands shell company as a “screen in order to hide his total income from Spain’s Tax Office”.
The Portuguese superstar is the highest paid athlete in the world according to Forbes, coming out on top with $93m (£73m) a year ahead of LeBron James who earns $86m (£67.8m). He is estimated to be worth nearly $200m (£157m).
Messi was found guilty on three counts of tax fraud in July 2016 and given a 21-month suspended prison sentence and a $2.1m (£1.7m) fine.
Ronaldo’s representatives insist Ronaldo has always fulfilled his tax obligations, saying in a statement late last year: “Spain’s Tax Agency is knowledgeable of all of Cristiano Ronaldo’s assets and income.”