Cristiano Ronaldo accepts 2-year jail sentence and £16.4m fine

Reports suggest that World footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to accept a £16.4m (18.8m euro) fine and suspended jail term to settle tax evasion charges.

The former Manchester United and Portugal attacker was accused last year of defrauding tax authorities of €14.8m (£12.9m), charges he denies.

The El Mundo newspaper reports that Ronaldo was willing to pay £12.9m in June 2017 but the government rejected the offer.

The news comes hours before Cristiano Ronaldo leads out Portugal take on Spain in the World Cup.

Spanish courts have recently clamped down on footballers that evade paying tax.

The Real Madrid star is unlikely to go to jail under the deal - reportedly a verbal one at this stage. Under Spanish law, a two-year sentence for a first offence can be served on probation, with no requirement for custody.

Spain tax agency accused the 33-year old footballer of trying to hide the income he made from image rights between 2011 and 2014.

He denied the claims and his agency has yet to comment on the latest reports.

The timing of the news has raised eyebrows, however as Ronaldo is due to play for Portugal in the match against Spain at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia later today.

Back in 2010, as the financial crisis deepened, Spain lifted a tax exemption that had become known as the "Beckham law", which had allowed footballers to curb their taxes.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi was given a 21-month prison sentence in 2017 on similar charges to Ronaldo but under Spanish law was able to pay a fine instead.

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