Brazil legend Ronaldinho arrested in Paraguay for alleged use of fake passport


Two-times Ballon d' Or victor, Ronaldinho was in court on Saturday facing trial in Paraguay for allegedly using a fake passport to enter the South American nation, according to Sky Sports.

But his hopes of returning home a free man were frustrated last night when prosecution chiefs reversed an earlier decision to offer him a plea bargain deal and police formally arrested him and his brother Roberto at the Sheraton Hotel in the capital Asuncion.

The pair appeared Saturday morning before Judge Clara Ruiz Diaz at the Palace of Justice.

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He spent Friday night in an administrative office in police headquarters that had been converted to serve as a cell, said Commissioner Blas Vera.

They arrived at Sao Paulo's Guarulhos airport with Brazilian documentation, but were given Paraguayan passports as soon as they got off the plane at Asuncion.

With unpaid damages of US$2.1 million (NZ$3.3 million), Ronaldinho's passport was seized, along with that of his brother, to prevent him from travelling.

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Paraguayan prosecutors will not charge Ronaldinho Gaucho for possession of an altered passport, but the former Barcelona player has admitted guilt and agreed to face an alternative punishment, the lead official in the case said on Thursday.

Although he last played professionally in 2015, Ronaldinho, who also turned out for Brazilian clubs Atletico Mineiro, Flamengo and Fluminense, is still hugely popular with global football fans for his skills and showmanship.

A representative of Ronaldinho, Wilmondes Sousa Lira, who is Brazilian, was charged with producing and using false documents as well as criminal association and was ordered held in the Tacumbu prison.

Local reports said prosecutors were already seeking information on the tax status of a number of people identified as being involved in the operation to invite Ronaldinho to Paraguay.

Ronaldinho was the FIFA World Player of the year in 2004 and 2005, earned the 2002 World Cup with Brazil, and won the 2006 Champions League with Barcelona.

A Brazilian businessman has also been arrested in connection with the fake passports, while two Paraguayan women have been placed under house arrest and Paraguay's migration director has resigned.