ASUNCION: Former Brazilian football star Ronaldinho has been detained in Paraguay after allegedly using fake passports to enter the South American country.
The 39-year-old, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, was detained in the Resort Yacht & Golf Club Paraguayo along with his brother Roberto on Wednesday night, the Ministry of Interior of Paraguay confirmed.
“Ronaldinho will be heard at eight in the morning on Thursday at the prosecutor’s office,” Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo told reporters. “We are also investigating the responsibility of the authorities who allowed them to enter the country with falsified documents,” he said.
Paraguayan police raided the hotel in Asuncion where the both were staying during a trip promote a book and found the false documents, the minister said. According to local media, passports were found in the hotel bearing the names of Ronaldinho and Roberto with Paraguayan nationality.
He was expected to hold several publicity events, with the media invited to witness his interaction with fans and dignitaries in Paraguay. The Paraguayan police had earlier revealed that Ronaldinho and his entourage had been invited to Paraguay by a casino owner.
Ronaldinho is currently without a Brazilian passport because of an environmental fine he received in 2018. The duo handed an $8.5 million fine in November 2018 and after failing to pay up were stopped from leaving the country.
Despite being unable to travel out of Brazil, Ronaldinho was unveiled as one of the country’s new ambassadors for tourism in September last year, saying that he was trying to make the most of his situation after accepting a role to promote tourism.
Ronaldinho enjoyed a distinguished career across South America and Europe. He also secured numerous individual honours, including the 2005 Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005. He lifted the World Cup in South Korea and Japan in 2002 and won the Copa America with his national team in 1999.