A regional Spanish court on Tuesday sentenced former Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to 23 months in prison and ordered him to pay a 18.8 million euro ($21.44 million) fine for tax evasion, although the world-renowned soccer player will not spend time behind bars, as prison sentences of less than two years are not normally served Spain.
Ronaldo's sentencing came after he reached a deal with the prosecution in which he admitted to having committed four tax crimes between 2011-14 and for which he was ordered to appear in person at the regional Madrid court to hear his sentencing.
Prosecutors estimated that Ronaldo had defrauded some 14.7 million euros, although they reduced the figure to 5.7 million euros after the Portuguese star took the plea deal.
After his request to enter the Madrid court via the garage in order to avoid the media spotlight was refused by a judge, the soccer star, often considered one of the world's greatest, arrived with his partner to a crowd of journalists and excited fans.
Ronaldo's former colleague and ex-Spain international Xabi Alonso also appeared at the Madrid court, where prosecutors have asked for a sentence of five years' imprisonment and a 4-million-euro fine on three counts of tax evasion allegedly committed between 2010-12.
Unlike Ronaldo, the Basque player has maintained his innocence.
The Portuguese star, who was a stalwart in Real Madrid's attacking formation between 2009-14, moved to the Serie A club Juventus over the summer.
Between interests and fines, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will have to hand over almost 19 million euros to the public purse.
Ronaldo and Alonso join other soccer players such as Luka Modric, Marcelo, Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano in accepting a plea deal with Spanish authorities for crimes against the public treasury.