Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona has appealed to the European Union after he was accused of owing €39 million to the Italian tax department. Maradona, renowned as the greatest player of his generation and viewed by many as the greatest ever, has denied the claims and said they are completely unfounded. However, Italy’s state authorities allege the tax bill accumulated during Maradona’s time at Napoli from 1984-1991. Maradona, who went to a mid-week Napoli match, is back in Italy after an eight-year exile in order to clear his name.
During Maradona’s stint at the club, he led Napoli to two Serie A titles, the only ones to date, the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup, now known as the UEFA Europa League. When questioned by reporters in Italy, Maradona said he did not have the sought after money, “because it’s really difficult to earn more than that in a lifetime to be honest, let alone after tax”.
Nevertheless, Diego Maradona has appealed to the European Union after he was accused of owing this €39 million to the Italian tax department. Maradona is a revered figure in the city of Naples, the home of Napoli. During his time there, it was not uncommon to see shop windows display a picture of him next to Pope John Paul II, the then leader of the Catholic Church. He is still the club’s all-time leading marksman with 115 goals and still has cult hero status at the club. The former number 10 is also a hero in his native Argentina, a country which he both played for and managed.
The World Cup winner has also been in the news this week for a different reason. It has been alleged the 53-year-old got engaged to 23-year-old Rocio Oliva despite claims from his ex-girlfriend Veronia Ojeda that she is expecting their second baby. Maradona has been accused of fathering a number of children over the years, and the likelihood of him admitting to being the father of Ojeda’s baby is debatable. He once said: “My legitimate kids are Dalma and Giannina. The rest are a product of my money and mistakes.”
Although Maradona had a glittering career as a player, both at club and international level, it was also plagued with controversy. In the 1986 Mexico World Cup, he use his hand to score against England, something he later called the “Hand of God.” The relatively inexperienced referee, Ali Bin Nasser, did not see the infringement and the goal stood. The Tunisian official did not referee another World Cup match after that tournament. However, if the first goal was seen as cheating, Maradona made up for it with his second. His solo effort, which saw him start with the ball in his own half, has gone down as one of the greatest goals of all time.
The 1994, the USA World Cup was 33-year-old Maradona’s swansong. Instead of using it as an opportunity to showcase his talent for the last time, the tournament marked the end of Maradona’s World Cup career. He tested positive for banned drug ephedrine after the 2-1 victory over Nigeria.
Off the pitch, rumors of Mafia connections and visiting prostitutes, along with accusations of cocaine use have stayed with Maradona, mainly alleged to have taken place during his time at Napoli. Now, the next big challenge for Diego Maradona is simple, he wants to clear his name a much as possible ane he has appealed to the European Union for help after he was accused of accumulating a €39 million tax bill during that same stint at Napoli.
By Robert Shepherd