By Bathandwa Magqaza
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 4 of VARSITY News.
One of the most instantly recognisable faces in football, Brazilian football legend, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira- commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho or simply Ronaldinho- has found himself locked up and having kickabouts with criminals.
On his arrival to Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital city, in the beginning of March the World Cup winner was arrested along with his brother Roberto. They were subsequently detained in a prison in Paraguay for the alleged use of fake Paraguayan passports. The pair were said to be in Paraguay for the launch of Ronaldinho’s new book.
A statement from Paraguay’s Ministry of the Interior explained, “The Attorney General’s office issued a warrant for their arrest, charged the player, Ronaldinho, with using a public document with false content, and requested preventative detention.”
Ronaldinho, whose Brazilian and Spanish passports had already been seized by Brazil’s authorities in 2019 relating to separate legal issues, claimed that the Paraguayan passport was given to him as a gift from a local sponsor. He further claimed that he had made an innocent mistake in using it, maintaining that he was not aware of the wrongdoing.
Although reports suggested that the former Barcelona attacker could face up to six months inside before his trial, it appears that he has served only 32 days behind bars in the country’s Agrupacion Especializada maximum security prison. The good news for Ronaldinho’s fanatics is that he has been released from prison in Paraguay after paying $1.6 million for his bail.
Despite the ill-fated scenario Ronaldinho finds himself in, he has still been making headlines for his football powers, having taken part in a number of games within the prison. Photos and video footage emerged from behind the confines of the prison walls showing Ronaldinho taking part in the games, with his trademark smile evident.
However according to former Paraguay International, Nelson Cuevas, his friend “lost” his smile. “Ronaldinho is not happy at all,” Cuevas told CNN Radio. “What distinguishes him is his smile, his good energy, his way of being but today, due to the situation he is going through, that smile is lost because he is in prison, which is a place, he is not accustomed to.”
Ronaldinho is widely accepted as one of the best footballers to have ever played the game, having lit up pitches across the world in the colours of Brazil, Paris Saint Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan, among others. However, despite scaling the heights of football and enjoying all of the associated riches, his personal situation and reputation has deteriorated rapidly.