World Cup winner and football legend Diego Maradona has been cleared of the charge of dodging £34million in tax — four months after his death. The Argentine was hit with a £2.5million bill in 1991 while playing for Napoli, which increased to £34million with interest.
In the hearing, Italy’s supreme court ruled Maradona should have qualified for a 2013 tax amnesty. The decision came four months after his death. He died of a heart attack, two weeks after being released from a hospital in Buenos Aires following brain surgery. The doctors are being investigated for a possible murder.
His lawyer Angelo Pisani said, “This finally hands back honour and dignity to a champion. He always knew he was innocent.”
Many of the world’s biggest and the highest-paid players have been caught by the authorities for tax evasion. Since majority of top footballers play in Europe, tax laws and poor advisory team often land these players in trouble. Maradona found himself in tax evasion case in Italy, but in the past few years most of the cases are happening in Spain.
The two biggest footballers of this generation Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both have been charged for tax evasion. Ronaldo was accused of failing to pay € 14.7 million in taxes by funnelling income related to image rights through a series of offshore companies. Ronaldo paid €18.8 million in taxes, fines and interest after he plead guilty to four Spanish courts.
Messi was initially charged with tax evasion in 2013. Spanish tax authorities alleged at the time that Messi’s father used a series of shell companies in tax havens to shield royalties and licensing income from tax. Messi had to pay the amount plus interests. Apart from Messi and Ronaldo, players such as Neymar, James Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano, Filipe Luis, Diego Costa, Radamel Falcao have also found themselves in tax evasion cases.