Thu, Feb 07, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Diego Maradona denies Italian tax fraud allegations

AFP, ROME

SSC Napoli fans show a flag representing Argentine former SSC Napoli player Diego Maradona during the Serie A soccer match against AS Roma at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples, Italy, on Jan. 6.

Photo: AFP

Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona said he was no fraudster in a video put out by his lawyer on Tuesday, as the former star disputes a claim that he owes Italian tax authorities millions of euros.

“I am not a tax fraudster. I played football and other people signed for me,” Maradona, who played for SSC Napoli, said in a video shot at his current residence in Dubai in which he spoke Italian.

“I am not afraid of returning to Italy,” he said.

“I never signed anything. The people who are really responsible are free and can walk around calmly in Naples and I can’t. That’s not fair,” he said.

Maradona was convicted in 2005 and ordered to pay 37.2 million euros (US$50.4 million), including 23.5 million euros in interest for late payments.

However, a court in November last year said there had been procedural errors and ordered a new investigation.

“I want to return to Italy as a gentleman because I never stole anything from anyone,” Maradona said.

The player scored 115 goals in 259 matches for Napoli between 1984 and 1991.

Napoli have only won the Italian title twice — in 1987 and 1990 — with Maradona starring in both campaigns.

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