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Football Leaks: The tax evasión league

Football Leaks: The tax evasión league

Football Leaks: The tax evasión league

A European consortium of investigative journalists uncover footballers and celebrities’ massive tax fraud, with an emphasis on Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho.

The German newspaper “Der Spiegel” known as Football Leaks, has revealed that several European clubs and soccer players have committed a crime of tax evasion. This newspaper belongs to an international consortium of journalists (European Investigative Collaborations – EIC), along with other newspapers from Spain (El Mundo), United Kingdom (Sunday Times), Belgium, France, Italy, Serbia and Romania.

Regarding de 18.6m leaked documents, including original contracts, players like the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, the Colombian Radamel Falcao or the German Mesut Özil, along with the Portuguese coach José Mourinho would have deferred the Spanish Tax Agency, throughout companies owned by their representative Jorge Mendes, head of the football players’ representative agency, Gestifute.

In the case of Cristiano Ronaldo, he might have benefited from the so-called Spanish “Beckham Law” advantages (RD 687/2005) that would allow foreigners living in Spain paying taxes as non-residents for their incomes in Spain with a set general rate at 24% instead of 43% for residents. This law is especially advantageous for higher incomes and for those who are receiving incomes out of Spain.

Real Madrid‘s Portuguese player might have moved up to E63.5m in sponsorship rights to the British Virgin Islands in 2014 through Irish companies (Polaris Sports and Multi Sports & Image Management, MIM) owned by Jorge Mendes and his nephew.

The Portuguese coach José Mourinho might have moved E12m between 2010 and 2013 to a Swiss bank account at the Mirabaud bank and to an established company at Road Town, in the British Virgin Islands.

The scheme was started in 2009, but how was this tax optimization progress made? Cristiano Ronaldo and other football players would have sold their image rights to a dummy corporation in the Caribbean island, Tollin Associates. The Portuguese footballer sold those rights for E75m until the year 2020 to two companies also located in the islands (Adiforce Finance and Arnel Services), that placed the money in a Swiss bank account via another intermediary company (Mint Capital, related to the Singaporean businessman Peter Lim, Valencia CF‘s owner).

It is difficult to argue the image rights’ lack of connection and its exploitation with the individual and his/her place of residence. This tax discussion, when it is done, must be pleaded very well.

The Spanish Tax Agency has been investigating the Portuguese football player since 2015 for committed irregularities in his non-resident income tax (IRNR)’s tax declarations between 2011-2013. The Spanish tax office calculates that Cristiano Ronaldo could have collected up to E150m for sponsorship rights in twelve years, by which he could have only paid taxes for E22.7m of them.

The player paid to the tax agency at one time up to E5.6m in 2014 with a 24.5% rate instead of paying yearly for those rights, the common procedure. In this sense, since this information was leaked, the Spanish Tax Agency has announced to conduct an inspection to Cristiano Ronaldo and the case could be prosecuted.

At Del Canto Chambers we are specialized in tax law and image rights management. We can be contacted at

Del Canto Chambers’ Editorial Board.

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