Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has told COPE that winning FIFA's The Best award has shut up his critics -- and joked that the prize came "tax-free."
Ronaldo beat Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to claim the newly relaunched FIFA prize in Zurich on Monday, following on from his Ballon d'Or victory last month, and said at the ceremony that the vote "shows that people aren't blind."
Ronaldo's personal recognition came after a year in which Real Madrid won the Champions League and Portugal won the European Championship but the forward was also placed under investigation by Spain's tax authorities, amid reports that at least €150 million of his income had been routed through a British Virgin Islands tax haven.
Speaking after the FIFA gala on Spanish radio show "El Partidazo," the 31-year-old said: "There were many doubts, and many campaigns against me. Inside and outside of football too. They wanted to attack me from all sides.
"The truth is that The Best [award] is for the best, which was me, so I am very happy. They wanted me to have a bad time, but as I said before: If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. So I shut them up, again, as always."
- Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) January 10, 2017
Asked by a reporter whether he would have to pay taxes on winning this particular FIFA prize, Ronaldo joked: "Well, if I had to pay the €150 million that people said I had to pay... This [award] is tax-free. Madre mia!"
He highlighted his charity work, adding: "The attacks I was getting from ignorant people who do not know what they are saying. I am going to tell you the truth. It annoyed me. It annoyed me as when you do things well, when you help many people.
"I am going to mention the 'Solidarity Prize,' which for me is one of the best trophies I have in my museum. I have helped so many people. So you do so many good things and people want you to pay, to camouflage the bad things others do. It annoyed me and it still annoys me. But justice always is just, so we are going to wait and see what happens."
In 2015, Ronaldo won the US-based "Athletes Done Good" award with the organisers saying that the Portuguese was being recognised for "donating more than $83,000 to a 10-year-old fan in need of brain surgery and giving more than $165,000 to fund a cancer center in Portugal that treated his mother."
In December, just as news broke of the Spanish tax authorities' year-long investigation into his affairs, he visited the "Innocent Innocent Foundation" centre for disabled kids in Madrid, posting a photo to his Instagram account.
A photo posted by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on
After winning the 2016 Ballon d'Or late last year, Ronaldo said the allegations of tax problems had "spoiled" that victory.
The chief of the union at Spain's tax authority has said it is likely that Ronaldo will end up facing tax fraud charges in court and that his case should be taken very seriously as "an example to society." The player and his representatives have strongly denied any wrongdoing and released documents that they say show he is currently fully tax compliant.
According to Forbes, Ronaldo's total income for 2016 was $88 million, including salary and endorsements.