Football

Paraguay police question Ronaldinho over alleged ‘adulterated’ passport

Former Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho leaves the attorney generals office after making a statement in Asuncion, Paraguay.

Former Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho leaves the attorney generals office after making a statement in Asuncion, Paraguay.   | Photo Credit: AP

A lawyer for former Brazil striker Ronaldinho Gaucho said his client will remain in Paraguay to help police with their enquiries into why he entered the country in possession of an adulterated Paraguayan passport.

Adolfo Marin told reporters the ex-Barcelona player and his brother Roberto Assis spent around eight hours with officials in Asuncion on Thursday before being released.

“He and his brother have no restrictions on them concerning their freedom,” Marin said. “But Ronaldinho has taken the decision to remain in Paraguay and await the proceedings.”

Paraguayan prosecutor Federico Delfino told a news conference earlier on Thursday that Ronaldinho and his brother were detained in Asuncion on Wednesday in possession of what were believed to be adulterated Paraguayan passports.

Delfino said the pair left Guarulhos airport in Sao Paulo with Brazilian passports and were given Paraguayan ones “as soon as they got off the plane” in the Paraguayan capital.

“Both Mr Ronaldinho and his brother said they were a gift,” Delfino told reporters.

Initial investigations indicated the numbers on the passports corresponded to other people, Delfino added.

“They have not gone through the process of obtaining Paraguayan nationality,” Delfino said. “To get Paraguayan nationality or to be naturalised as a Paraguayan you have to have resided in the country.”

Reuters has contacted Assis to request comment on the allegations.

Good faith

Marin said Brazilians do not need a passport to travel between Brazil and Paraguay, both of which are members of the Mercosul bloc.

He could not explain why they showed Paraguayan passports when they had travelled recently on their Brazilian passports to China, Europe and the United States.

Marin said they were surprised by Paraguayan authorities, and asked for more time to see the formal accusations.

“I think they showed good faith but were taken by surprise,” Marin said.

The Paraguayan public prosecutor’s office, which collaborated with the police in their investigation, said its officials seized the pairs cell phones and passports during a visit to their hotel on Wednesday.

The brothers were invited to Paraguay by a local casino owner and had arrived on Wednesday to take part in a soccer clinic for children and a book launch.

Ronaldinho, who also played for Atletico Mineiro, Flamengo and Paris St Germain, last featured professionally in 2015.

Ronaldinho, 39, was the best player in the world at his peak in the early part of this century.

He was named FIFA World Player of the year in 2004 and 2005 and won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 7:24:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/paraguay-police-question-ronaldinho-over-alleged-adulterated-passport/article30995856.ece

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