Sports

Italy court clears Maradona of tax evasion years after his death

ROME : Italy’s highest court cleared the late Agentine soccer legend Diego Maradona of tax evasion charges, ending a 30-year-long legal battle between the ex-Napoli striker and revenue authorities.

Known as “El Pibe de Oro”, or the Golden Foot, Maradona was accused of allegedly using proxy companies in Liechtenstein to dodge legal fees when receiving payments between 1985 and 1990 from the Napoli club for his personal image rights.

“It is over and I can clearly state without fear of being contradicted that Maradona has never been a tax evader,” his lawyer, Angelo Pisani, told Reuters.

Rome’s Court of Cassation overturned a 2018 verdict in mid-December, a court document published on Wednesday and seen by Reuters showed.

Maradona died in November 2020 from a heart attack. Fans of Napoli and of the Argentine national team worshipped him as the “god of football”.

Investigations into the footballer’s tax payments started in the early 1990s and resulted in charges of 37 million euros ($40.38 million) and the confiscation of some of the player’s belongings during his visits to Italy.

Pisani added that the final verdict “does justice to fans, to the values of sport, but mostly to the memory of Maradona”.

“It places a grave stone on a persecution that he suffered for 30 years,” he said.

“…The heirs now have a legal right to claim damages,” Pisani said. “I hope that they use it, in memory of their father.”

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