Former Brazilian international Ronaldinho Gaucho was remanded in Paraguay on Saturday after a judge ruled him a flight risk.
The ex-Barcelona forward was arrested and detained alongside brother and business manager Roberto Assis on Friday for possessing a fake Paraguayan passport.
The pair asked to be released into house arrest but that was rejected by the judge, who also dismissed Assis’s claims to have a heart problem for lack of proof.
Judge Clara Ruiz Diaz said their alleged offence was a “serious one against the interests of the Paraguayan state”.
Because the pair posed a flight risk they must remain in custody, she added.
Under Paraguayan law, officials now have six months to complete their investigation but Ronaldinho’s lawyers, who called the decision “incredible,” are expected to present an appeal in the coming days.
“He (Ronaldinho) doesn’t understand what’s going on,” Tarek Tuma told reporters.
The 39-year-old had travelled to Paraguay to promote a book and a campaign for underprivileged children.
Prosecutors say the brothers were given the false documents when they landed in the capital Asuncion on Wednesday.
A judge rejected prosecutors’ recommendations that they be released after receiving an alternative punishment such as paying a fine to charity. The brothers were then ordered to be placed in pre-trial detention.
In July 2019, the player reportedly had his Brazilian and Spanish passports confiscated over unpaid taxes and non-payment of fines for illegally building on a nature reserve in Brazil.
Although he last played professionally in 2015, Ronaldinho, who also represented Brazilian clubs Atletico Mineiro, Flamengo and Fluminense, is still hugely popular with global football fans for his skills and showmanship.
The 39-year-old was named FIFA world player of the year in 2004 and 2005 and won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006.