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Soccer: Maradona has 'won' Italian tax dispute, says lawyer

Inland revenue agency said Argentina great owed 40 million euros

01 February, 12:53
Soccer: Maradona has 'won' Italian tax dispute, says lawyer (ANSA) - Rome, February 1 - Diego Maradona has won a 40-million-euro dispute with the Italian tax authorities, lawyers representing the Argentine soccer great said on Friday.

The Agenzia delle Entrate, the Italian inland revenue agency, said Maradona owed them the money for unpaid taxes on off-the-books earnings in sponsorship and merchandising deals from his time at Napoli. One of his lawyers, Angelo Pisani, said a court had ruled that tax checks run on the time Maradona played for Italian club between 1984 and 1991 were invalid. "Now he can return to Italy a free man," Pisani said.

Maradona is revered in Naples for helping the city's soccer team to win two Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup.

The former player had a diamond-studded earring and a Rolex watch seized, among other assets, on past visits to Italy.

Pisani added Maradona would now sue the tax authorities for around 40 million euros in damages to his image, wealth and earning potential. Maradona said last year that he felt persecuted by the Italian tax authorities. "Every time I return I have a horrible feeling. I'm angry with the Italian tax authorities, who make me feel like a thief, a fraudster," he said.

"I've never stolen anything from Italy or the Italian people. I just gave joy and fun on the field".

Maradona said the tax debt was not down to him but to Napoli club officials who "did things on the sly".

During his time with Napoli Maradona also helped Argentina to win the 1986 World Cup, scoring the famous 'Hand of God' goal and the most highly voted 'best goal ever' against England along the way.

The tax ruling also applies to disputes with two other former Napoli players, Brazilians Careca and Alemao, Pisani said.

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