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Maradona says innocent, doesn't have 40 mn euros for taxman

Lawyer says soccer great willing to pay three million

14 February, 17:37
Maradona says innocent, doesn't have 40 mn euros for taxman (ANSA) - Naples, February 13 - Diego Maradona said Friday that he had never dodged taxes and could not pay a bill of around 40 million euros from the Italian taxman even if he wanted to. The tax authorities say the former Argentina soccer great owes them money for unpaid taxes on off-the-books earnings in sponsorship and merchandising deals from his glorious time at Napoli between 1984 and 1991.

"I'm not a tax dodger," said Maradona, who is revered in Naples for helping Napoli win two Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup in that period.

"I don't have 40 million euros. I haven't earned it".

Maradona's lawyer Angelo Pisani, meanwhile, said the ex-player was willing to pay three million euros to end the dispute if there was proof he had made a "mistake" in his tax returns. The 53-year-old is in Italy after visiting to see Napoli beat AS Roma 3-0 on Wednesday to qualify for the Italian Cup final by winning their semi 5-3 on aggregate. He does not return to Italy very often after having a diamond-studded earring and a Rolex watch seized, among other assets, over the tax row on past visits.

"When I come to Italy, they seize my earrings, so I stay at home," Maradona said.

"But I know justice will arrive".