Benjamin Mendy, a French professional soccer player, was remanded in custody in 2021 on alleged rape and sexual assault charges. According to reports, police arrested him at his home in Cheshire, England, on August 26, 2021, after receiving a complaint from a woman who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Mendy. Subsequently, three other complaints were made against him for sexual assault and rape. Mendy appeared in Chester Magistrate’s Court on August 30, 2021 and was denied bail. He remained in custody while awaiting trial on the charges. In January 2022, Mendy pleaded not guilty to all charges against him during a hearing at Chester Crown Court. The trial was scheduled to begin in May 2022, but was postponed until October 2022 due to logistical issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In October 2022, Mendy was convicted of four counts of sexual assault and one count of rape. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Ronaldinho, a Brazilian soccer legend and former FC Barcelona player, was imprisoned in Paraguay in March 2020 for entering the country on a false passport. At the time, Ronaldinho was in Paraguay to attend a charity event and promote his new book. However, upon arrival at the airport, authorities discovered that both he and his brother and agent, Roberto de Assis Moreira, had used forged passports to enter the country. Ronaldinho and his brother were arrested and charged with «use of public documents with false content». After several months in custody, they were finally released on parole in August 2020 after posting bail. In January 2021, Ronaldinho reached a plea agreement with Paraguayan authorities in which he pleaded guilty to the crime of using false public documents. As part of the agreement, he received a sentence of two years’ probation and a $90,000 fine, which went to charities in Paraguay. While Ronaldinho’s case was a worldwide scandal due to his status as a soccer star, it also drew attention to the problems of corruption and document forgery in Paraguay and around the world.
René Higuita, the former Colombian goalkeeper known for his bold and creative style of play, was arrested and imprisoned in 1993 for his alleged involvement in a kidnapping. At the time, Colombia was in the midst of a time of violence and armed conflict, and kidnapping was a common practice used by guerrilla groups and criminal organizations to extort money from individuals. Higuita had reportedly become involved in the case after accepting a phone call from Pablo Escobar, the notorious Colombian drug trafficker, who asked him to act as an intermediary in the payment of a ransom for a kidnapped person. Higuita agreed to help Escobar and delivered the ransom money to the kidnappers, but was arrested shortly after by the police. He was charged with complicity in the kidnapping and imprisoned while awaiting trial. After several months in prison, Higuita was released on parole in 1994 and subsequently acquitted of the charges against him. However, his reputation and career were affected by the scandal, and he never returned to play at the same level as before his arrest. Despite this dark episode in his life, Higuita is still remembered as one of the most talented and innovative goalkeepers in the history of soccer, and continues to be a popular figure in Colombia and around the world.
Diego Armnando Maradona, one of the greatest soccer players in history, had several run-ins with the law throughout his life, but one of the most notable cases that landed him in prison occurred in 1991 in Argentina. At the time, Maradona was dealing with his drug addiction and was in a difficult financial situation. It was in that context that he was charged with cocaine possession and subsequently arrested. After spending several weeks in custody, Maradona was released on bail and underwent rehabilitation treatment to deal with his addiction. However, the incident had a major impact on his career and personal life, and he struggled to regain his reputation and career after his release. Although this was one of the most notable cases in which Maradona was arrested and imprisoned, it was not the only one. In 1994, he was suspended for 15 months after testing positive for ephedrine in a drug test during the FIFA World Cup. In 1998, he was also arrested and accused of shooting a journalist with a BB gun.
Bruno Fernandes de Souza
Bruno Fernandes de Souza, a former Brazilian goalkeeper, was jailed in 2010 for his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of his ex-girlfriend, Eliza Samudio. According to reports, Fernandes and a group of accomplices kidnapped Samudio in June 2010, after she told them she was pregnant by Fernandes and wanted him to recognize the child as his. Samudio was taken to a house where she was brutally tortured, raped and finally killed by one of Fernandes’ accomplices. Samudio’s body was never found, but it was discovered that she had been dismembered and fed to dogs. Fernandes and other accomplices were arrested and convicted of the crime in 2013, with Fernandes receiving a 22-year prison sentence. After serving six years of his sentence, Fernandes was released in 2019 under a writ of habeas corpus while awaiting the outcome of an appeal. In 2020, he was hired by a second division soccer team in Brazil, causing controversy and protests from women’s rights groups and justice advocates. Although Fernandes continues to deny his involvement in the crime, his story remains one of the most remarkable and tragic in the history of Brazilian soccer.
Lucas Viatri, an Argentine striker, was jailed in 2018 for his alleged involvement in an armed robbery in Buenos Aires. According to reports, Viatri and a group of accomplices were accused of stealing a watch valued at more than $10,000 from a man in a Buenos Aires neighborhood in February 2018. The man filed a complaint and police investigated the case, leading to the arrest of Viatri and other alleged accomplices. Viatri was incarcerated in Ezeiza prison while awaiting the outcome of the investigation and trial. He was released after a month on bail and allowed to play soccer while awaiting trial. Finally, in 2020, Viatri was acquitted of the charges after the prosecution was unable to present sufficient evidence against him. Despite his brief stint in prison, Viatri’s case caused a stir in Argentina and the soccer world, as many were surprised that a player of his caliber would be involved in such a crime. Despite this, Viatri has continued to play soccer professionally and has continued his career with various clubs in Argentina and other countries.
Ruben Semedo, a Portuguese defender, was jailed in 2018 in Spain for a series of offenses, including assault, illegal detention and illegal possession of weapons. Semedo, who was then playing for Villarreal CF, was arrested after a man accused him of assaulting him and holding him against his will at his home in Valencia. Police searched Semedo’s home and found a loaded gun and ammunition, which resulted in his immediate arrest. After being brought to trial, Semedo was convicted of several offenses and sentenced to five years in prison in 2019. However, the player appealed the sentence and was eventually released on bail while awaiting the court’s final decision. In 2021, Spain’s Supreme Court upheld Semedo’s sentence, although it reduced his prison time to three years.
Lucas Hernandez, a French defender, was jailed in 2017 for his alleged involvement in a domestic violence case. According to reports, Hernandez had a fierce argument with his partner at their home in Madrid, Spain. The argument turned violent and the couple began to physically fight, leading to the intervention of neighbors who called the police. When the police arrived, Hernandez and his partner were arrested and taken to the police station for questioning. After being brought to trial, Hernandez was convicted of domestic violence and sentenced to serve 31 days of community service at a domestic violence shelter. In addition, he was ordered to pay a fine and undergo therapy to control his anger. Hernandez’s case caused great controversy in the soccer world and led his team at the time, Atletico Madrid, to take disciplinary action against him. The player publicly apologized for his behavior and promised to improve his conduct in the future. Despite the seriousness of the case, Hernandez has continued with his soccer career and has been successful on the field.
George Best, the legendary Northern Irish footballer, was jailed in 1984 for drunk driving and assaulting a police officer. Best had struggled with alcoholism for much of his adult life, which had affected his soccer career and had been a constant source of personal problems. At the time of his arrest, Best was driving while intoxicated and refused to stop when stopped by police. After a brief chase, Best was finally arrested and taken to the police station. At the police station, Best became angry with the officers and became violent, assaulting one of them and causing damage to the cell where he was detained. As a result, he was charged with several offenses, including drunk driving, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. After being brought to trial, Best was convicted of several offenses and sentenced to three months in prison. Although he was released after serving only one week of his sentence due to prison congestion, the incident had a lasting impact on his reputation and soccer career.
Eric Cantona, the iconic French footballer, was jailed in 1995 for attacking a fan in the middle of a match. During a match between Crystal Palace and Manchester United, Cantona was sent off for a foul and headed for the dressing room. On his way, a Crystal Palace fan began to insult and taunt him, causing Cantona to react violently. The footballer jumped the fence and hit the fan with a flying kick, causing a huge commotion in the stadium. Cantona was arrested and charged with assault, and after a trial was sentenced to two weeks in prison. In addition, he was given a nine-month suspension from soccer and a financial fine. The incident was widely condemned by the public and the soccer world, and had a significant impact on Cantona’s career. However, after serving his sentence, the footballer returned to Manchester United and continued to be a key player in the team, winning several titles and cementing his reputation as one of the most talented and controversial players of his generation.