The Bad Boys Club: Ronaldinho, Maradona & Other Football Stars Who Ended Up In Prison

ET Bureau|
From Field To Prison
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From Field To Prison

Footballers are not above the law — be it the colourcoded justice system of the playing field or the complex statutes of the public courts. Here are a few players who ended up behind bars for reasons ranging from forgery, assault and kidnapping.

Agencies
Ronaldinho
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Ronaldinho

The former Barcelona and AC Milan legend was arrested recently along with his brother and agent for using a fake passport to enter Paraguay. The Brazilian World Cup winner claims he was framed, and that the passports were obtained from the businessman Wilmondes Sousa Lira “as a gift”.

The trio was moved to the Agrupacion Especializada — a high-security prison in Asunción, Paraguay’s capital. The warden is reportedly making the most of the situation, and has organised a futsal tournament for the facility’s 194 inmates.

Rene Higuita
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Rene Higuita

The colourful former Colombia goalkeeper was forced to miss the 1994 World Cup due to his conviction in a kidnapping case. Higuita acted as a conduit for cocaine baron Pablo Escobar in a kidnapping case involving the daughter of his associate Carlos Molina.

The keeper pocketed $64,000 for lending a helping hand. However, he was unceremoniously booted into prison for seven months as it is against Colombian law to profit from kidnapping. “I have made many friends and several have been drug traffickers, I cannot change that,” he said.

Adam Johnson
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Adam Johnson

Once regarded as the heir apparent to David Beckham, the Sunderland-born winger (R) ended up with a black eye in a prison shower after refusing to remove hair from a plughole. Johnson was arrested in 2016 and sentenced to six years imprisonment for assaulting a 15-year-old schoolgirl.

He was held guilty on charges of kissing, sexually touching and “grooming” a besotted fan for the “single-minded pursuit of his own sexual gratification”. Investigators subsequently found pornography — reportedly a bestiality video — on his laptop, but not of the victim.

Diego Maradona
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Diego Maradona

The Argentine attacking midfielder was placed in handcuffs in April 1991 after his suburban Buenos Aires house was raided and cocaine was found on the premises. At the time, Maradona was cooling his heels in Argentina after being handed a 15-month ban from competitive football for testing positive in a drug test.

During his stint at Napoli, the Naples mafia reportedly used him as a front, and facilitated his cocaine-fuelled orgies whilst using their clout to grant him immunity from legal sanction. “Probably someone else peed for him,” said former Napoli president Corrado Ferlaino when asked how he continued to pass drug tests. He was also handed a suspended sentence in 1994 for shooting at journalists with an air rifle.

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