How Ronaldinho spent his first month – including 40th birthday – in Paraguayan jail
Brazil and Barcelona legend, Ronaldinho, is said to be adapting to life in a Paraguayan jail where he has been incarcerated for about a month and is being investigated for entering the country with a fake passport.
The former world player of the year had a rough bedding-in period but now appears to be, if not enjoying his stay in jail, making the most of it.
Earlier in his stay, reports from the prison say his mates continually offered him snacks, in an attempt to make him feel welcome and make his adjustment to life in the Paraguayan jail much easier.
However, Ronaldinho, still in shock over his incarceration, was reluctant to accept any gifts.
He eventually warmed up to his mates and started accepting snacks and tea, Marca reported at the time.
In fact, Ronaldinho became accustomed to his fellow inmates that he would have long conversations with some of them about his days in football.
A number of the inmates, who were in awe of having such a huge star join them, couldn’t resist asking him for autographs, which the ever-jovial star was happy to sign.
Reports indicate that even the prison guards could not help requesting the Brazilian to sign autographs for themselves and their kids.
Having been ordered to remain in jail by the judge, after his first appearance in court, Ronaldinho joined a football team in jail, where he showed that class is permanent.
‘Dinho’ dominated the trophy match, scoring five goals and assisting six more, with all kinds of tricks and flicks along the way as his side won the 16kg smoked pig on offer.
Prior to the game, there had been a huge bidding war for the player, with many teams keen to have him in their ranks.
One of the policemen actually lent him a pair of shoes to play in.
Aside football, which is certainly Ronaldinho’s first love, the player has been learning carpentry in the jail.
He has also taken to teaching the inmates some of the skills that made him a global icon and plays football everyday.
“He plays football every day and teaches the guys he plays with a few tricks,” a source told ESPN
However, it’s not been all roses for the Brazilian as he is reported to be missing music, having taken to playing the bongos during his retirement.
He is not allowed to play instruments in jail.
Ronaldinho is quite concerned about his mum as well and reportedly calls her every evening to check on her.
The player also recently spent his 40th birthday behind bars, not the ideal setting for such a landmark period.
He did, however, get to celebrate the day with a ‘huge barbeque’.
Arrest, court appearance
Ronaldinho was arrested in Paraguay over claims that he entered the country using a fake passport.
According to the BBC, police in the country also searched the hotel where the Brazilian had been staying with his brother in the Paraguayan capital in the capital, Asuncion.
Paraguay’s Interior Minister, Euclides Acevedo, clarified to ESPN Brazi that the two had not been arrested but are under investigation and that they are cooperating with the police.
“I respect his sporting popularity but the law must also be respected. No matter who you are, the law still applies,” he said.
Another man who travelled with the brothers – 45-year-old Wilmondes Sousa Lira – has also been held.
When they appeared in court, the judge ordered them to be held in pre-trial detention, denying them bail or house arrest.
It is reported that Ronaldinho faces six months in jail for the offence if found guilty.
In July 2019, 57 of Ronaldinho’s properties were seized following a court order, due to unpaid taxes.
A Brazilian newspaper, Folha de S.Paulo that Ronaldinho owed 9.5 million reais, the equivalent of GH¢ 13.5 million.
The former Barcelona player also reportedly also owed creditors 7.8 million reais, or GH¢ 11.1 million.
A judge in Porto Alegre told Reuters news that because the case was under judicial secrecy rules it couldn’t comment on it.
The former player has also had his passports seized by Spanish and Brazilian authorities.
Ronaldinho featured on that year’s Instagram Rich List, placing sixth, with the Brazilian reportedly charging £206,000 for every promotional post.
He had a storied career that spanned just over two decades, playing for some of Europe’s biggest sides including Barcelona and AC Milan.
He enjoyed the most successful period of his career at the Catalan club, where he scored 94 goals and assisted 71 more.
He was also named the World Footballer of the Year in 2004 and 2005, winning the Ballon d’Or in 2005.