Ex-Barcelona, Brazil superstar Ronaldinho: Going to jail a tough blow

Ex-Barcelona and Brazil star Ronaldinho said he is still coming to grips with his arrest and time spent behind bars after entering Paraguay with false identification documents.

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Ronaldinho and his brother and manager, Roberto, spent 32 days in a Paraguay jail before being allowed on April 9 to move to a four-star hotel in Asuncion under police custody.

The two are awaiting trial, with a date having yet to be set due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ronaldinho has given his first interview since the arrest to Paraguay's ABC TV's "Crimen y Castigo," a show that will air on Monday.

"[Going to jail] was a tough blow," Ronaldinho, 40, said in the interview. "I never imagined that I would go through a situation like this.

"All of my life I have searched to reach the top level professionally and to bring joy with my football.

"I hope that they can use and confirm all that we have brought to this case and that we can come out of this situation as soon as possible."

Ronaldinho said in the show that he travelled to Paraguay to take part in the launch of an online casino and in the unveiling of a book, "Craque da Vida."

He and his brother entered the country on March 4 with false Paraguay passports that had been given to them as a gift.

"We were completely surprised to find out that the documents were not legal," Ronaldinho said. "Since then, our aim has been to cooperate with the justice [department] in order to clarify the facts as we have done from the beginning. Since that time up to now, we have explained everything and facilitated all that the justice [department] has requested."

Ronaldinho, who is staying in a luxury suite at the Palmaroga hotel, has thanked the Paraguayan people for their hospitality but said he is desperate to go home.

"The first thing I will do is to give my mother a big kiss," he said. "She is at home going through a difficult time since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

"Then to absorb the impact that this situation has had and move forward with faith and strength."

While in jail, Ronaldinho was seen playing sports and having photos taken with guards.

"To play football, sign autographs, have photographs taken is part of my life," he said. "I have no reason to stop doing it, more so with people that are going through a difficult time as I am."