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Why is Ronaldinho is prison and when is the Brazil star set to be released?

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 6 days ago Tom Herbert
Ronaldinho, Roberto De Assis Moreira posing for the camera © Provided by Evening Standard

Football fans the world over were shocked to see recent pictures of Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho in a prison in Paraguay.

Since his retirement in 2018, the former Selecao international has struggled to settle into life after sports, being beset by a string of legal troubles which has seen him spend his 40th birthday behind bars.

But at the height of his career Ronaldinho represented the best of South American football, with his mazy dribbles, awe-inspiring technique and eye for the spectacular at Barcelona casting him as one of greatest of all time.

And which Three Lions fan can forget the audacious goal he scored against England in the 2002 World Cup?

His fall from grace has been stark, and his old international team-mate Rivaldo perhaps summed it up best when he said: "I am sad about what is happening to my friend and teammate... he does not deserve it."

Here is why Ronaldinho is in prison, and when he is set to be released.

Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o standing in the grass: (Getty Images) © Provided by Evening Standard (Getty Images)

Why is Ronaldinho in prison?

Ronaldinho, 39, is currently in prison after he allegedly entered the country with a false passport, alongside his brother Roberto, 49.

The pair were arrested on March 6 on suspicion of entering the South American country with fake Paraguayan documents, but they deny the charge.

His lawyer claims Ronaldinho did not know the documents were fake and instead were given to him as a worthless "honorary-type" document by a local sponsor, according to The Sun.

Prison warden Blas Vera told Reuters: "In broad terms he is doing very well.

"I see he is in good spirits, just like you see him on television, always smiling.

"Since yesterday he looks very well, he talks to his other inmates, he goes out to the patio."

According to Paraguayan newspaper Hoy, Ronaldinho was convinced to join a prison futsal match while behind bars and played a starring role as he scored five and set up another six goals.

When is he set to be released from prison?

Renato Dirnei Florencino, Ronaldinho, Maicon Sisenando, Kevin Maguire standing in front of a crowd: (Getty Images) © Provided by Evening Standard (Getty Images)

According to reports, Ronaldinho could face up to six months in prison.

He and his brother have both been denied bail.

The footballing legend had to spend his 40th birthday behind bars at the weekend, where he celebrated with a barbecue.

Ex-teammates Ronaldo and Rivaldo both wished him happy birthday, with Ronaldo writing: "May you overcome this difficult stage of your life with the same joy as usuall."

And in his post, Rivaldo said: "May God bless you greatly and give you a lot of strength to get through this very difficult time. Praying and always rooting for you."

Gallery: 50 of the most iconic soccer players of all time (Photo Services)

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