New evidence 'clears' Maradona in tax probe

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Diego Maradona played for Napoli between 1984 and 1991. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
17:38 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: Equitalia, the Italian tax agency, was told by a Naples court on Wednesday to suspend its pursuit of Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona over an alleged unpaid tax bill, his lawyer Angelo Pisani told The Local.

The alleged €39 million unpaid tax bill dates back to when Maradona played for Napoli between 1984 and 1991, Pisani said.

Tax agents began procedures to freeze his assets in Italy over the debt last October.

Equitalia said in a letter addressed to Maradona on May 30th, and seen by The Local, that it had suspended foreclosure procedures "pending further notice". The tax court in Naples ordered that suspension on Wednesday, a move Pisani said was based on new evidence that shows “no tax violation” ever existed against Maradona.

"Finally there will be truth on the Maradona case", he said, adding that the “ambush” of the footballer by the tax agents started in 2001, “when they hunted him down on the steps of an aircraft, before he even set foot on Italian soil”.

Maradona, who is now a sports ambassador for the United Arab Emirates, also had two Rolex watches and a diamond earring confiscated in a hotel room during a visit to Italy in 2003.

“It seems that today, everything is clear and the ordeal has ended,” Pisani said.

Pisani added that Maradona was a man who had “caught the imagination of Neopolitans” but was instead “treated like a criminal".

“It seems impossible, but the strength of the documents and the clarity of truth has put an end to this absurd manhunt declared by the Italian tax authorities, and not the judicial system, of one of the greatest champions of our time."

In response to the claims, Maradona protested in 2013 that he was "not a tax fraudster".

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"I was playing football and someone else was signing for me," he said.

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.

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