MADRID Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo feels unable to celebrate his fourth Ballon d'Or award as much as his previous triumphs due to recent allegations of tax evasion.
The European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) media consortium reported in early December that Ronaldo, and several other clients of soccer agency Gestifute, had used tax havens to handle tens of millions of euros in earnings.
Gestifute denied the accusations last week.
Ronaldo, who led Portugal to the Euro 2016 title in July after helping Real Madrid clinch the Champions League, expressed his disappointment at the timing of the charges against him.
"Of course it (allegations) has spoiled it a little bit. I would be lying if I said it hadn't. I'm not a hypocrite," he told soccer magazine France Football.
"I wasn't pleased. The whole process in itself is hard and not only for me, but also for the people alongside me: my family, my son, all those who work with me.
"All that irritates me because I try to do things correctly, be transparent."
In their denial, Gestifute stated that Ronaldo, who moved to Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2009, is compliant with his tax obligations in Spain.
The 31-year-old Ronaldo, who beat Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann to world football's top individual prize for 2016 at a glitzy ceremony on Monday, insists he has nothing to hide.
"You just have to type 'Cristiano Ronaldo' on the Internet and you know everything about me," the Portugal captain said. "I don't have any reason to lie.
"What came out troubles me. Because it's not true. The lie is troubling. I have done things correctly.
"There are a lot of innocent people in prison. And I feel a little bit like that. You know you have done nothing wrong, and they say you have done something reprehensible. No one likes that.
"But the truth always comes out. Sooner or later."
Ronaldo, who previously won the Ballon d'Or in 2008, 2013 and 2014, is currently with Real Madrid in Japan preparing for Thursday's Club World Cup semi-final against Mexican side Club America.
(Reporting by Adriana Garcia; Editing by John O'Brien)