Released on 7 April after spending several weeks in prison in Paraguay, Ronaldinho is under house arrest pending trial on charges of using a false passport. He was released on Monday.
He will have spent more than a month behind bars. Ronaldinho, who was remanded in custody with his brother in Paraguay for alleged use of a false passport and possible involvement in a money-laundering case, was released on bail on 7 April. He has since been placed under house arrest at the Hotel Palmagora, located in the historic centre of Asunción. It is there, in a lounge of the 1900s-era building, which is under close surveillance, that the 2005 Ballon d’Or has emerged from the silence since the beginning of its judicial troubles. This is an opportunity to tell the story of his time in prison.
Arriving in the Paraguayan capital on 4 March to promote a book and take part in a charity operation, the former PSG and Barça player was arrested two days later, accused of being in possession of a forged passport. “We were totally surprised to learn that the documents were not legal,” he said. We were totally surprised to learn that the documents were not legal,” Ronnie told the local daily ABC Color on Monday 27 April. “From day one, we’ve explained everything, and responded to everything the law has asked us to do to facilitate their work.”
I never imagined I would find myself in a situation like this.
The Brazilian was arrested with Roberto, his brother who is also his representative, but he was nevertheless imprisoned. What surprised him. “It was a hard blow, I never imagined I’d have to go through such a situation,” he explains. “All my life I’ve been trying to reach the highest level and bring joy to people through football. Our flight was scheduled to leave on Saturday 7 March at 3am to return for my son’s birthday. I don’t know what happened next.” Initially allowed to return to Brazil, he was finally incarcerated in the high security prison of Agrupacion Especializada.
There, he was given a welcome worthy of the player he had been. “Everyone I had the opportunity to meet in prison received me with kindness,” says the 2002 FIFA World Cup? winner with the Seleção. “Playing football, signing autographs, taking photos, it’s part of my life, there’s no reason I should stop doing it, especially with people who were going through a difficult time like me. Photos and video footage, taken and shot behind the prison walls, were widely distributed on the internet showing him, smiling as always, participating in a futsal tournament.
Under house arrest since the beginning of April, after paying bail of 1.6 million dollars, Ronaldinho is awaiting trial, which has been adjourned due to the precautionary measures taken in Paraguay to contain the coronavirus pandemic. He now hopes to be cleared by the Paraguayan justice system so that he can return home as soon as possible. “The first thing I’ll do when this is all over will be to go and give a hug to my mother who is going through this difficult situation from home,” he says, also referring to Covid-19. “Then it will be time to digest this situation and move forward with faith and strength.” “Ronnie” relies on “(his) prayers for everything to go well” and “hopes it will be over soon.”