Former German national team football captain Michael Ballack has pleaded poverty when faced with a sizeable fine for speeding in Spain. His lawyer said he could only pay €1,080 because he is unemployed.
The 36-year-old football legend was caught by a speed trap driving at 211 kph on a Spanish motorway near Santa Cruz de la Sierra, where the speed limit is 120 kph, two Spanish policemen testified.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that he was driving an Audi Q7 worth €52,000.
State prosecutors demanded he pay a fine of €10,000 – and lose his driving licence for two and a half years.
Appearing in court for Ballack on Wednesday, his lawyer argued that the former Chelsea and Bayern Munich footballer should only have to pay €1,080, on the grounds that he is unemployed at the moment, and that his licence should only be suspended for a year.
The figure was calculated based on the minimum daily income rate by which fines are imposed – €6 – multiplied by 180.
The lawyer argued that Ballack currently had no income. “Just because you are a famous football player does not mean you have assets,” the lawyer said, the Spanish newspaper reported.
Ballack was earning around €150,000 a week during his heyday at Chelsea in 2006, and had an income of €100,000 a week at the same club as recently as 2010.
The former Chelsea star, who turned 36 in September, retired from professional football at the start of October after his two-year contract at Bayer Leverkusen expired having made 98 appearances for Germany. He and his partner of 13 years Simone Ballack also filed for divorce last week.