Ronaldinho being jailed for a fake passport raises innumerable questions. Jack Lang on this Thursday’s edition of the Totally Football Show explains a lot.
“The first part of that response is: stupidity,” said Jack Lang when asked how on earth Ronaldinho got himself into this situation. “He is very much led by his agent, who is his brother, who makes all his business decisions for him. He will have just given him his passport which Ronaldinho would have handed over without really asking any questions. There’s a kind of ‘diminished responsibility’ in this relationship and how he has dealt with things: I don’t say that to excuse him, more damn him.
“More broadly, it comes against the background of similar issues since his retirement. It’s not the first passport issue he’s had: his Brazilian passport was withheld after he and his brother refused to pay an environmental fine.
“Basically they had a lakeside property in Porto Allegre, and they built a 70 metre pier out into the lake. It’s an area of environmental protection, they didn’t get permission, and the local authorities were pretty flabbergasted by this and hit them with a massive fine, which they didn’t pay. Year after year the interest stacked up and eventually their only recourse the Brazilian authorities had was to withhold his passport.
“That didn’t stop the Brazilian tourism authority making him a tourist ambassador for the country, in what can only be described as a brilliantly Brazilian piece of public administration.”
All of which adds to the very real sense that this has been coming.
“I know social media feeds don’t tell the whole story, but to scroll through his Twitter and Instagram has been to be bowled over by the number of ridiculous tie-ins he does with apps, mobile games, new sports, cryptocurrencies, investment opportunities: a lot of them feature videos of him, glassy-eyed, endorsing something he plainly doesn’t understand.
“It certainly isn’t a major surprise to see the sort of legal trouble he’s in now. It looks like he could be there a while, because the Paraguayan authorities have called for the arrest of one of his business associates. They believe there’s grounds for a legal process to do with money-laundering, which was related to his entry into Paraguay to do some work at a foundation he’s part of.
“To the outside observer, this seems like a funny, fluffy story, but it could be the start of quite a long thing. Obviously the answers will come out in due course, but Paraguay’s prosecutor seems to be taking this very seriously, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this rumbled on for quite a while.”