Inter Miami fined USD 2 million following Matuidi inquiry

Inter Miami USD has been fined 2 million following Major League Soccer's investigation into the 2020 signing of French international Blaise Matuidi.

Blaise Matuidi (right) and Samuel Piette go for the ball during an MLS contest on May 12, 2021, in Florida. - AP

Major League Soccer has fined Inter Miami USD 2 million and imposed other sanctions following its investigation into the 2020 signing of French international Blaise Matuidi.

The league's investigation determined Miami violated roster designation rules for Matuidi and Andrés Reyes. It also found the team didn't disclose agreements that led to underreported salaries for Leandro González Pirez, Nicolás Figal and Julián Carranza.

Matuidi, who played for the 2018 World Cup winners, came to Miami from Juventus in August. The team said it used targeted allocation money to sign him. The league's investigation, launched in March, determined Matuidi should have been a designated player.

The league found no wrongdoing on the part of team co-owner David Beckham, the former English star, and other owners. Managing owner Jorge Mas was fined USD 250,000 because he had an obligation to make sure the rules were followed. In addition, Inter Miami’s allocation dollars for 2022 and 2023 were reduced by USD 2,271,500.

MLS said no Miami players committed violations or were aware of them, and their current contracts remain in full force.

Former Miami sporting director Paul McDonough, who parted ways with the team in December, was suspended by the league through the 2022 season. He was named vice-president of soccer operations for Atlanta United in January but Atlanta said shortly after the sanctions were announced on Friday that it was parting ways with him.

“The integrity of our rules is sacrosanct, and it is a fundamental principle of our league that our clubs are responsible for adhering to all league regulations,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement on Friday. “Our rules will not be compromised. These sanctions reflect the severity of Inter Miami’s violations, should encourage complete cooperation by all parties in future investigations, and will serve as a deterrent for clubs from violating roster rules.”

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Mas issued a statement acknowledging the club violated league rules in its first season.

“We have worked closely with MLS to address these issues and have made significant changes in our management structure. Following our inaugural season, we took a deep look at our soccer operations leadership group and made decisions that not only strengthened our internal roster compliance measures, but also better positioned us to build a sustainable, long-term competition strategy with the hiring of Chris Henderson as Chief Soccer Officer and Sporting Director in 2021,” he said.

Ahead of its first season as an expansion team, Miami announced it signed Argentine Matías Pellegrini as a young designated player from Argentina’s Estudiantes on July 26, 2019, Mexican midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro as a designated player from Monterrey on February 17, 2020, and Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuaín as a designated player from Juventus on September 18.

Miami bought out the contract of Pellegrini to get back in compliance. Pellegrini was loaned to Fort Lauderdale, the affiliate for Miami in the third-tier United Soccer League’s League One. He is ineligible to play for Miami this season.

Matuidi, Higuaín, and Pizarro are the team’s three current designated players.

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