While he’s not completely out of trouble yet, Ronaldinho is at least out of prison. The Brazilian soccer phenom and his brother, Roberto Assis, were arrested last month as they tried to enter Paraguay using fake passports, and the Bollon d’Or winner has repeatedly claimed his innocence, asserting that he had no idea the documents were false. Now that he’s been released from prison, Ronaldinho has been able to provide more details about the drama and has conducted his first interview as a semi-free man.
Ronaldinho and Assis were on their way to Paraguay in order to take part in several publicity events when they attempted to cross the border into the country with their alternative passports. Upon discovering “irregularities” with the documents, police arrested the two on March 7 and sent them off to jail. After serving 32 days of a six-month sentence, they were allowed to leave the confines of the prison on April 9, but are being forced to remain on house arrest at a nearby hotel until they have their day in court.
Completely caught off-guard by the status of the passports, Ronaldinho never expected to be involved in an embarrassing situation like this. He participated in an interview with ABC Color after his release from prison, explaining, “We were totally surprised to learn that the documents were not legal. Since then, our intention has been to collaborate with the justice system to clarify the facts. From that moment until today, we have explained everything and facilitated everything that has been requested of us.”
Authorities decided that the best place for the soccer star was Agrupacion Especializada, a maximum-security prison. Ronaldinho enjoyed more freedom than most, regularly playing soccer and being treated by the inmates and guards like the celebrity he is. Still, it’s not an experience he wants to relive, telling ABC Color, “It was a hard blow, I never imagined that I would go through such a situation. All my life, I have sought to reach the highest professional level and bring joy to people with my football.”
Ronaldinho may not have had to spend 32 days locked up if it weren’t for a few legal hiccups. Several requests for bail had been denied until an agreement was finally reached to release them in exchange for about $1.98 million. He traded his prison cell for a luxury suite at the Palmaroga hotel, hoping to put the issue behind him as soon as possible.
There are still a lot of questions surrounding the incident and why the pair would have needed to obtain alternative passports when they had their own, Brazil-issued documents. They claim that they received the passports from a sponsor, but that still doesn’t clear the air. Perhaps the whole story, and the sponsor who’s responsible for the debacle, will come out during Ronaldinho’s trial.