Diego Maradona determined to clear name over £32m tax bill

Hundreds of supporters greeted the 52-year-old on his arrival at
Naples airport yesterda

Diego Maradona has returned to Naples to plead his innocence over an
outstanding 40million euro (£32 million) tax bill issued to him by the
Italian justice system.

The former Argentina and Napoli striker expressed his desire to avoid persecution in the southern Italian city, where he is held in high esteem by fans of the Serie A club with whom he won two league titles in 1987 and 1990.

Hundreds of supporters greeted the 52-year-old on his arrival at Naples airport yesterday but he declined to speak to the press about claims he owes the Italian state millions of euros in unpaid taxes until today's press conference.

Quoted in the Gazzetta dello Sport, Maradona said: "I want to tell everyone that I have Napoli in my very soul. I've wanted to say so for a long time but there are people who would not let me do so."

The 1986 World Cup-winner blames senior figures at the club at the time for the situation he now finds himself.

"Everyone who drafted my contract (at Napoli) is free today. I was out on the training field at the time but now when I come to Italy the financial authorities want to take my earrings from me," he said.

"Why do I have to pay and not them, when I gave my life to Napoli? I am not a victim because I have earned a lot of money but I didn't know anything about the contractual issues.

"I am facing up to the situation because I have not killed anyone."

Maradona was ordered to pay 37.2m euros (£32m) in unpaid taxes in 2005. His lawyer Angelo Pisani subsequently declared the debt had been cleared but Italy's tax authorities are still demanding he pay up.

Maradona is determined to clear his name so he can return to Italy in the future with his family.

He added: "I want to come back to Italy with my grandson to watch Napoli. I want him to see what his grandfather did here and not be remembered as a tax-dodger, which I am not.

"I want to believe that justice exists and I want to ask that justice system to let me walk freely in Italy and in Naples.

"I want to represent the people but an Argentinian cannot resolve the problems of the Italian people. I hope that all the people who, like me, are involved in this kind of problem come out of it well."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project