Maradona suing Italian comic over drugs remark

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Diego Maradona said he is planning to sue an Italian comedian for defamation. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
14:46 CEST+02:00
Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona said he is suing the Italian comedian, Gene Gnocchi, for defamation over a reference made to his drug-taking history during a programme on Rai Sports on Sunday.

The footballer made the announcement after filing a dossier at the tax commission in Naples contesting accusations of tax evasion, La Repubblica reported.

During a discussion on Domenica Sportiva (Sunday Sport), Gnocchi said:

“Maradona as ambassador for Naples? No, at the most [he could be] ambassador for Colombia or the Medellin cartel.”

The Medellin cartel was an organized drug smuggling network that originated from Medellin, a city in Colombia.

The comedian apologized for the remark, according to the report, but Maradona is said to be intent on suing because, the footballer was cited as saying, “when it comes to drugs, you don’t joke”.

Gnocchi reportedly argued that  it would be better to resolve the issue “by talking, with a little common sense.”

Angelo Pisani, Maradona’s lawyer, was quoted by Il Mattino as saying that “drugs used to be a big problem” for the footballer, but that he has now recovered.

Maradona was in Naples to file a dossier in relation to a €39 million tax debt.

His tax woes go back to when he played for Napoli between 1984 and 1991. In 2005, he was ordered to pay €37.2 million, €23.5 million of which were interest on the debt.

But Italian prosecutors resumed the trial from scratch in 2011 in what was seen as a victory by Pisani.

A final ruling on January 10th 2013 from a court in Naples made the sentence definitive.

"I am not a tax fraudster," Maradona protested in 2013. "I was playing football and someone else was signing for me," he said.

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Maradona scored 115 goals in 259 games with Napoli, where he is still adored to this day. With him on the team, Napoli won their only two Italian league titles in 1987 and 1990.

He also won the World Cup with Argentina in 1986.

He is now a sports ambassador for the United Arab Emirates following his departure from local club Al Wasl in 2012.

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