Ronaldinho detained in Paraguay for carrying fake passports

The soccer star and his brother claim they were deceived by a businessman accompanying them into filing the false documentation.

Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldinho and former president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldinho and former president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, commonly known as Ronaldinho, who played for both Brazil's national team as well as Barcelona was cited in Paraguay near the capital of Asunción, along with his brother Roberto Assis, for the alleged possession of altered "documentation" in the form of passports, according to ESPN Brazil.
The passports were apparently found in the pair's hotel room at the Yacht and Paraguayan Club Hotel Resort in the city of Lambare, listing the Brazilians as Paraguayan nationals.

"[Ronaldinho and his brother] are not being detained. They are still under judicial investigation, and they have to testify. Then it will be decided whether they will be arrested or not," according to Paraguayan Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo.
"At the moment, there is a Brazilian businessman who is in detention. According to the initial statements, he was the one responsible for the alterations," he said. "These documents are being analyzed so their authenticity can be established. Two passports, a national ID document and mobile phones have been confiscated."
Ronaldinho and Roberto claim they were deceived by a businessman accompanying them, Wilmondes Sousa Lira, into filing the false documentation at the Silvio Pettirrossi Airport in Luque, believing it was valid.
"At the airport, the National Police realized that the document had been tampered with – and we cannot allow anyone to carry tampered documents," the minister said, according to ESPN Brazil. "The information we have according to our investigators is that these passports were requested and issued to two people about a month and a half ago, and later they were altered [to be for] Ronaldinho and Assis."
Following the failure to pay an environmental citation for illegally building a fishing trap without official authorization, Ronaldinho was stripped of his passport in 2018 and currently has not obtained a replacement – despite being named Brazil's ambassador of tourism a year later. The accompanied documents, also known as a cédula de identidade or RG (Registro Geral), were meant to validate Ronaldinho's business in the country.
The soccer star and his brother are reportedly due in court at 8 a.m. next Thursday.
"Mr. Ronaldinho has a false passport. That is a crime and that's why his arrest has been ordered," Acevedo told local radio station AM 1080. "I respect his sports popularity, but the law needs to be respected no matter who you are."
The brothers were invited to Paraguay by a local casino owner and had arrived on Wednesday to take part in a soccer clinic for children and a book launch.
Ronaldinho was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005 as well as the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year in 2006.
The former Gremio, Flamengo and Paris Saint-Germain forward last played professionally in 2015.
Ronaldinho, 39, was the best player in the world at his peak in the early part of this century.
He won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006.
Reuters contributed to this report.