Brazilian football great Ronaldinho and his brother Roberto Assis have been arrested in the Paraguayan capital for allegedly entering the country with false passports.
Ronaldinho, 39, and Roberto de Assis, 49, were detained after police raided their presidential suite at the Resort Yacht and Golf Club, around 15km south of Asuncion, late on Wednesday, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Mr Ronaldinho has a false passport. That is a crime and that’s why his arrest has been ordered,” Paraguay’s interior minister Euclides Acevedo told local radio station AM 1080. “I respect his sports popularity, but the law needs to be respected no matter who you are.”
Acevedo said that an investigation was “ongoing”, adding that more information would be shared with the public at a press conference on Thursday morning, local time.
Paraguayan and Brazilian media reported that Ronaldinho and Assis, who is the former Barcelona playmaker’s agent, remained at the hotel under police watch after their arrest.
The brothers arrived in Paraguay on Wednesday morning to participate in a children’s charity campaign and to publicize a new book about Ronaldinho’s career.
It is not the first passport controversy to engulf Ronaldinho and Assis. In November 2018, they had their travel documents seized by Brazilian authorities after failing to pay a fine resulting from a 2015 court case.
The pair recovered the passports last September — effectively ending a 10-month foreign travel ban — upon accepting a million-dollar fine for building a fishing platform without environmental permits.
Ronaldinho retired from football in 2018 after a career that included a World Cup triumph in 2002 and two FIFA World Player of the Year awards.