Diego Maradona has leapt to the defence of Ronaldinho and insisted the former Brazil star is not a criminal.
The former Barcelona playmaker remains under investigation for passport fraud following his and his brother Roberto’s arrest on March 6 after entering Paraguay and allegedly saying they had Paraguayan citizenship.
Ronaldinho swiftly denied using a forged passport, with the 2002 World Cup winner claiming he didn’t know he had committed an offence.
And Maradona also believes his ‘friend’ is innocent and that his mistake likes with his iconic status.
‘What happened to Ronaldinho made me sad, he is not a criminal, he only went to work (in Paraguay),’ Maradona told Argentine outlet El Dia de La Plata.
‘His mistake is being an idol, it seems. He is my friend and I support him to the death.’
Ronaldinho’s own lawyer Adolfo Marin however said that while the former player had been ‘stupid’, he criticised the courts for not taking into account his mistake.
‘The courts have not taken into account the fact that Ronaldinho didn’t know he was committing a crime, because he didn’t understand he had been given false documents. He is stupid.’
It had been argued that he should be spared from facing prison due to his high-profile status as a former footballer, with his legal team saying his detention was ‘arbitrary, abusive and illegal’.
But thirty-two days after arriving, his hands disguised by a pink blanket, he was moved to house arrest at the Palmaroga hotel in the country’s capital of Asuncion while investigations into the documentation continues.
Ronaldinho has been residing in a presidential suite, which boasts its own balcony, 55 inch smart TV, as well as a whirlpool bath and spacious kitchenette, at the luxurious four-star hotel after being released from prison.
Lionel Messi was also forced to deny reports saying he had paid his former team-mate’s bail money to escape his Paraguayan jail cell.
He has struggled to stay away from the limelight as his career began to wind down – and mostly for the wrong reasons, with problems arising in 2015, 2016 and 2018 before his latest incident.
At the height of his football career though, he won one Ballon D’or and two FIFA World Player of the Year awards, alongside two La Liga titles and a Champions League crown with Barcelona.
Source: Daily Mail
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