MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to be the next football superrstar to be charged with tax evasion by the Spanish authorities over the use of offshore havens to stash image rights earnings writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano are two stars who have already incurred court action over similar cases.

Earlier this week Messi failed in an appeal against a conviction and sentence to 21 months in prison, albeit a sentence he will not be required to serve.

The Real Madrid top scorer’s case has been referred to the Madrid public prosecutor, according to the Football Leaks operation which reported a non-declaration of €15m between 2011 and 2014 to the Spanish tax authorities.

Others already implicated in similar schemes have included Xabi Alonso, Ángel Di María, Ricardo Carvalho, Radamel Falcao and Fabio Coentrao.

The progression of the case to the public prosecutor has been reported by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo which is a member of the European Investigative Collaborations consortium.

A spokesman for Ronaldo, who is preparing for the Champions League Final against Juventus in Cardiff on Saturday next week, said that the player had not paid all the taxes due but that he had never intended to cheat.

Ronaldo would be the sixth football star to be charged since December, in his case for directing image rights income to accounts in low-tax Ireland and British Virgin Islands.