Cristiano Ronaldo agrees to €18.8 million tax evasion fine

Portuguese football player Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored his first World Cup hattrick against Spain (3-3) in Russia, has reached a deal with Spanish authorities to pay a fine for tax evasion, and accept a two-year jail term. However, he is extremely unlikely to serve any time in prison.

Ronaldo, who is accused of evading 14.7 million euros in taxes, reached an agreement with Spanish tax authorities that would see him pay 18.8 million euros.

The agreement, which has still to be ratified, will also likely include a two-year prison sentence. However, jail terms of up to two years are not normally served in Spain for a first-time offense.

Details of the agreement came to light on Friday, just hours ahead of Portugal’s tantalizing clash with Spain at the World Cup in Russia.

The Real Madrid forward was alleged to have defrauded the Spanish state by channeling earnings for image rights through a network of screen companies between 2011 and 2014.

Tax officials told the Spanish news agency EFE that lawyers acting for the player had presented them with a proposed settlement several weeks ago. This was met with a counter-proposal that was accepted by the 33-year-old.

Ronaldo had consistently said his “conscience is clear,” and was reportedly so upset at the allegations that he threatened to leave Spain.

Since extending his contract last November until 2021, the five-times Ballon D’Or winner is among the highest-paid footballers on the planet.

Spanish authorities and courts have recently cracked down on tax evasion among the country’s leading football players. Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi was given a fine and a 21-month prison sentence last year on similar charges, which he did not have to serve.