Portugal is considering pulling Cristiano Ronaldo’s public honours after he was fined millions by Spain for committing tax fraud while at Real Madrid, the country’s president said on Thursday.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo was awarded the Grand Cross of the Portuguese Order of Merit in 2016 when the national team won the European Championship, but on Tuesday was ordered by a Spanish court to pay 3.57 million euros ($4.1 million), part of a broader 18.8-million-euro payout.
He was handed a two-year jail sentence that was immediately reduced to a fine of 365,000 euros and another penalty of 3.2 million euros, according to the sentence.
“The law is very simple: it is up to the chancellors of the national orders to see if anything has happened that could lead to the loss of honour,” President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa told reporters.
This means it would be the current chancellor of Portugal’s civil Order of Merit, one of several branches of the country’s honours system, to decide whether the 33-year-old’s conviction is enough to strip him of his honour.
“We should let those with the legal power to decide to do so and see whether the law applies or not in this case.”
However, the Juventus attacker’s honours from his home island of Madeira are safe. Ronaldo received the Madeira Medal of Merit, the autonomous region’s highest honour, in December 2014 before the inauguration of a bronze statue in his likeness at Madeira airport.
“Here in Madeira, Cristiano Ronaldo has always been seen as a good person … He is not a criminal,” said regional president Miguel Albuquerque, who dismissed Ronaldo’s conviction as an “interpretation of a tax issue”.
“He is the most prestigious Portuguese in the world,” he added.
Image: Juventus’ forward and former Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo leaves with his Spanish girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez after attending a court hearing for tax evasion in Madrid on January 22, 2019. – AFP