Ronaldo: Ballon d’Or win clouded by fraud allegations
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo says his Ballon d’Or victory celebrations have been tarnished by allegations of tax fraud.
Ronaldo, who picked up his fourth footballer of the year award on Monday, says the allegations have been hard to bear for himself and his loved ones.
They also “partly spoiled the pleasure” of winning his fourth Ballon d’Or.
“It would be a lie to say otherwise,” he told France Football magazine in an interview published in part by the sports daily L’Equipe.
Twelve European newspapers have published excerpts of the so-called Football Leaks dossier, based on documents obtained by the German weekly Der Spiegel, including allegations concerning Ronaldo and other top footballers.
According to the reports, the Portuguese striker used tax havens to stash away 150 million euros ($160 million) he earned from image rights, an accusation he denies.
“Obviously this has not been good for me,” he said.
“It is hard not only for me but also for the people who are near me: my family, my son, all those who work with me.”
Ronaldo had very little time to celebrate Tuesday after capturing a fourth Ballon d’Or as Madrid got down to Club World Cup business in Japan.
The 31-year-old was presented with an edible version of the golden globe and a healthy plate of berries by captain Sergio Ramos before the team hit the training pitch for Thursday’s semi-final in Yokohama.
Ramos, who looks set to sit out the game with fatigue, posted a photo of himself and Ronaldo at the team’s hotel on Twitter with the message: “Congratulations, Cristiano. You deserve it.”
Ronaldo closed on rival Lionel Messi’s record five awards after a stunning year in which he helped Real become European champions for the 11th time and led Portugal to the European Championship title.
But he was back to bossing his team mates around in Yokohama on Tuesday evening as the Spanish giants — who are chasing a second world title in three years — limbered up for their test against Mexico’s Club America.
“We are doing a good job,” said Ramos, who has been instrumental in table-topping Real’s club record 35-game unbeaten run.
“We’ve got a better understanding with each other and we’re on the same wavelength,” added the central defender, who has chipped in with late goals against bitter rivals Barcelona and Deportivo la Coruna in recent weeks.
“The team is reaping the benefits of that,” he told the FIFA website. “We want a happy ending to what’s been a good year for us. We’d like to get (the title) back as we had to pass it on last year.”
Ramos, who was famously involved in a Twitter row with Barcelona defender Gerard Pique last year which continued while their Catalan rivals were in the Far East for the Club World Cup, has yet to train in Japan.
Real’s French coach Zinedine Zidane is unlikely to take any chances on his captain’s fitness on Thursday with a possible final just three days later.
“The Club World Cup gives us the chance to test ourselves against other styles of play we’re perhaps not so used to,” said Ramos. “We have new goals to achieve, and new records to break. There are always new challenges.”
Zidane is already missing Gareth Bale as the Welshman recovers from ankle surgery, although he has been boosted by the return of Toni Kroos from a broken metatarsal.
South American Libertadores Cup holders Atletico Nacional of Colombia face Japanese champions Kashima Antlers in Osaka on Wednesday in the competition’s first semi-final.
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