Even the greatest athletes of all time must pay their taxes.
Argentinian soccer star Diego Maradona is widely considered one of the best footballers to ever grace the pitch, but a report from the Associated Press, via The Guardian, claims that Italian authorities have threatened to freeze all of his assets if he does not pay off a debt of €39 million ($53 million).
According to the report, tax police have already confiscated two Rolex watches and a diamond earring during previous visits to Italy.
If the figures are correct and the interest accrued indeed adds up to the number authorities are claiming Maradona owes, he deserves no sympathy for dodging bills that are approaching 30 years in length.
Maradona came to international fame for his role in helping Argentina win the World Cup in 1986, but in the midst of that triumph, he was a member of Napoli in Serie A.
He joined the club in 1984 on a then-record transfer fee of £6.9 million, helping the Blues win two league trophies (1986-87, 1989-90) and numerous other accolades in the process.
During that same stretch, he was apparently failing to sign over some of his money to the Italian government.
As reported by Napoli FC News on Twitter back in February, the Argentinian denied that he was a tax evader as Italian authorities were pressing him to give back what he owed:
Maradona denies avoiding tax in Italy - video - Football legend Diego Maradona insists on Monday that he was no tax ... http://t.co/tF2cXEeT— Napoli FC News (@NapoliFCNews) February 5, 2013
After a trial that was conducted later that month, it looked as if things had been resolved. But as this set of tweets from Reuters reporter Naomi O'Leary, early indications did not end up being the case:
Football great Diego Maradona wins 30-year battle against 40 million euro tax bill in Italy, his lawyer says http://t.co/iPEfFLgG— Naomi O'Leary (@NaomiOhReally) February 1, 2013
THE PLOT THICKENS: Italy tax authority denies it pardoned Diego Maradona in tax evasion case http://t.co/iPEfFLgG— Naomi O'Leary (@NaomiOhReally) February 1, 2013
Maradona was in Italy to take in the latest Serie A clash between AS Roma and Napoli this week, which was why Italian officials were able to track him down in his hotel room and get him to sign the notification.
Sophie Jane Evans of the Daily Mail expanded on the AP report in her latest piece on the soccer star, claiming that the move was only a "formal procedure" by government officials and that it does very little to officially end the feud between the two sides.
It's a sad day that things have come to this for Maradona.
Regardless of the official numbers and reasons why he racked up this bill during his playing days with Napoli, the enigmatic former coach and player has a fiscal and personal responsibility to fall into line with the rest of society.
Who is the greatest soccer player of all time?
He's a great player, and certainly has a chance to redeem himself by coming out and showing he wants to put this matter to bed the right way, but this is a situation that could have been avoided starting 30 years ago.
Until Maradona pays off his debts and acknowledges some sort of fault for letting things come to this, he will continue to be pursued by Italy and those responsible for recapturing lost funds.
And he will continue to remind us that no one is above the law.
Not even the self-proclaimed greatest of all-time.
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