In a twisted celebration of the start of the 2018 World Cup in Russia (not to mention the Spain - Portugal Group B opener on Friday), Spanish tax authorities have secured a guilty plea from football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, handing him a two-year prison sentence - which he is unlikely to serve - and an 18.8 million euro (about $22 million) fine. Instead doing time, Ronaldo will face "probation" - with exceptions of course to allow him to continue earning money with Real Madrid, income that the Spanish government can then find a way to tax.
According to RT, Ronald took a deal with the Spanish State Bar and accepted the conditions, which were also imposed by Spain's Tax Agency, over allegations that he avoided 14.7 million euros ($17 million) in taxes through an opaque scheme that funneled earnings from Ronaldo's image rights to tax shelters in Ireland. Ronaldo recognized four fiscal offenses, receiving six months for each crime. Luckily, under Spanish law, individuals with no prior criminal record can instead receive probation. (This is also why Lionel Messi avoided a 21-month Spanish prison sentence - also for evading taxes and had punishments for him and his father reduced to fines by the court).
Ronaldo had initially denied allegations that he had avoided paying taxes to the Spanish government between the years 2011 and 2014, according to the Daily Star. Lawyers for Ronaldo have been in negotiations about a settlement for months now. We imagine the massive fine would make a victory over Spain that much more enjoyable.