Rome

Maradona has not won tax dispute, inland revenue agency says

Commission did not 'annul or adjust' 40-million-euro debt

Maradona has not won tax dispute, inland revenue agency says

Rome, February 1 - The Italian inland revenue agency on Friday denied that Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona had won a 40-million-euro dispute. "The commission has neither annulled, nor closed, nor adjusted the debt that Mr. Diego Armando Maradona has with the agency," said the Agenzia delle Entrate. Contrary to statements from Maradona's lawyer Friday, the agency says the footballer owes them money for unpaid taxes on off-the-books earnings in sponsorship and merchandising deals from his time at Napoli. The agency said that Maradona's lawyer had misinterpreted a ruling that pardons soccer club Napoli, but not its players. One of Maradona's lawyers, Angelo Pisani, said earlier on Friday that a court had ruled that tax checks run on the time Maradona played for Italian club between 1984 and 1991 were invalid and therefore he could now "return to Italy a free man". Maradona is revered in Naples for helping the city's soccer team to win two Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup. The former player had a diamond-studded earring and a Rolex watch seized, among other assets, on past visits to Italy. Maradona said last year that he felt persecuted by the Italian tax authorities. "Every time I return I have a horrible feeling. I'm angry with the Italian tax authorities, who make me feel like a thief, a fraudster," he said. "I've never stolen anything from Italy or the Italian people. I just gave joy and fun on the field". Maradona said the tax debt was not down to him but to Napoli club officials who "did things on the sly". During his time with Napoli Maradona also helped Argentina to win the 1986 World Cup, scoring the famous 'Hand of God' goal and the most highly voted 'best goal ever' against England along the way. The tax ruling also applies to disputes with two other former Napoli players, Brazilians Careca and Alemao, Pisani said.

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