Prosecutors found a nominal amount at the former Brazil and Barcelona star’s disposal despite the large fine he was slapped with three years ago
A court in Brazil has seized the passports of Ronaldinho and his brother over their failure to pay a fine for building on an environmental protection area.
The former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain star and his brother, Roberto, were convicted of illegal construction in February 2015 and ordered to pay 8.5 million Brazilian Real (£1.7m).
Along with company Reno Constructions and Incorporations Ltd., they were found to have built a sugar mill with a fishing platform and a pier in a permanent preservation area on Lake Guaíba without permission.
Having so far defaulted on the payments and proving difficult to track down, the 38-year-old and his brother were taken to court again, and the public prosecutor said that an investigation into their bank accounts revealed a balance of just 24.63 Brazilian Real (£5).
“There is no other measure than the retention of the passports as a coercive measure in the face of repeated unfair, abusive and total disrespect, disobedience and non-compliance with the legal system,” the prosecutor argued.
The court in Rio Grande do Sul, the 2005 Ballon d’Or winner’s home state, has now ruled that the footballing icon must submit his passport when he returns to Brazil from his current travels.
A statement from Judge Newton Fabrício read: “The subjects responsible for the depletion of the environment have long been evading compliance with their legal obligations, even though they have the means to settle it and are public figures with high purchasing power able to compensate for the environmental damages that remain fully defaulted.”
He continued: “Although photographed routinely in different parts of the world, corroborated by the gathering of Certificates of Migratory Movements, the defendants, curiously, in their country of origin, have an uncertain and/or unknown whereabouts.
“I determine the immediate seizure of the passports of the defendants by the authorities, with the additional order to include restriction on issuing a new passport until the fulfillment of the obligation determined in the sentence.”
Ronaldinho officially retired from football earlier this year, having not played professionally since leaving Brazilian side Fluminense in 2015.
He was capped 97 times by Brazil, scoring 33 goals – including two en route to World Cup glory in Japan and South Korea in 2002.
He joined Paris Saint-Germain from Gremio to begin his European career, which flourished spectacularly at Barcelona between 2003 and 2008.
Ronaldinho inspired back-to-back La Liga triumphs in 2004-05 and 2005-06, also winning the Champions League in the latter season.
He was at the peak of his powers as he claimed the Ballon d’Or in 2005; less so during a three-year stay with AC Milan, although he did feature in all-star line-ups alongside the likes of Paolo Maldini, Kaka and David Beckham.
Ronaldinho left San Siro midway through the Serie A title-winning 2010-11 season and returned to his homeland with Flamengo. He also experienced stints at Atletico Mineiro and in Mexico with Queretaro.