Cristiano Ronaldo pleads guilty to tax fraud at Madrid court

With a guilty plea and a huge fine, Cristiano Ronaldo finally put an end to his tax problems in Spain.

Nearly four years after an investigation was opened, Ronaldo appeared at a court in Madrid on Tuesday to plead guilty to tax fraud and agree to a fine of nearly $21.6 million.

The Juventus forward, who was facing charges stemming from his days at Real Madrid, spent about 45 minutes in court to sign the agreement. He also was given a two-year suspended sentence. Ronaldo will not have to serve time in prison because judges in Spain can suspend sentences for two years or less for first-time offenders.

Several other soccer figures — including Lionel Messi, Jose Mourinho, Luka Modric, Alexis Sanchez and Angel Di Maria — have been subjected to investigations from tax authorities in Spain in recent years.

The Portugal native smiled broadly after leaving court despite the unwanted trip back to Madrid, where he played until last summer.

“It’s done,” he said briefly as he walked past some of the hundreds of journalists outside the court house. He later posted a photo on Twitter of himself smiling while apparently taking a selfie inside an airplane. The picture was accompanied by emoticons that included a “thumbs-up.”

Separately, Ronaldo is facing a rape allegation in the United States.

Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada in September, claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing.

Search called off: The search for the missing plane taking Argentine player Emiliano Sala to his new team in Wales was called off for the night with authorities not expecting to find any survivors in the English Channel.

Police said floating objects had been seen in the water but they were unable to confirm whether they were from the light aircraft that disappeared from radar Monday night off the coast of Guernsey as it made the journey from Nantes.

Sala, 28, had spent the previous hours saying farewell to teammates at the French city’s soccer team after Cardiff signed him for a club-record fee last week.

Sacramento’s MLS hopes get boost: Billionaire Ron Burkle has become the new lead investor in the Sacramento Republic soccer team.

Club CEO Kevin Nagle said Burkle’s investment will help the team in its quest to move from the second-tier United Soccer League into Major League Soccer. Sacramento is among the contenders for an expansion franchise in MLS, along with St. Louis, Phoenix and Detroit.

Burkle is a co-owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins with a net worth estimated at $2 billion by Forbes magazine.

U.S. men’s roster: U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter trimmed his training-camp roster to 23, cutting Colorado midfielder Kellyn Acosta, Salt Lake defender Justen Glad and goalkeepers Alex Bono of Toronto and Tyler Miller of Los Angeles FC.

The U.S. team has been training in Chula Vista (San Diego County) , ahead of matches against Panama on Sunday at Glendale, Ariz., and Costa Rica on Feb. 2 at Avaya Stadium. Just four players have more than six international appearances: midfielders Michael Bradley (142), Paul Arriola (17) and Wil Trapp (11), and forward Gyasi Zardes (40).

Earthquakes defender Nick Lima remains on the roster. He has yet to debut for the national team.

Briefly: Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has been ruled out until March because of a hamstring problem, further limiting the English Premier League team’s attacking options after an injury to forward Harry Kane, and Son Heung-min playing for South Korea in the Asian Cup. … Son helped South Korea to the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup in Dubai, needing extra time to beat Bahrain 2-1. It will face Qatar on Friday after the 2022 World Cup host beat Iraq 1-0. … The French football league’s disciplinary commission has fined Paris Saint-Germain approximately $114,000 for illegally profiling ethnic origins of potential young recruits.

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