MLS fines Inter Miami league-record $2M over Matuidi salary violation
Los Angeles, May 28, 2021 (AFP) - Major League Soccer handed David Beckham's Inter Miami a league-record $2 million fine on Friday for violating roster and salary rules in its signing of French international Blaise Matuidi.
Managing owner Jorge Mas was also fined $250,000 and the club's former chief operating officer and sporting director Paul McDonough has been suspended through the end of the 2022 MLS season, the league said in a statement.
MLS had already determined the French World Cup winner had been paid more than allowed under the league's roster and budget rules, effectively giving Miami four "designated players" last season rather than the allowed three.
"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. "Our rules will not be compromised."
MLS also imposed a reduction of $2,271,250 in allocation dollars available for salaries for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
That could prove a more significant blow to the club's on-field efforts than the $2 million fine, which dwarfs the previous biggest fine ever handed out by the league of $150,000, to Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen for comments about the collective bargaining agreement negotiations in 2015.
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," Garber said.
MLS revealed in March it would be investigating Inter Miami's signing of Matuidi and in April the league said it had determined his deal violated roster and salary rules.
Each team in MLS is allowed three designated players whose wages do not count against the salary cap.
The rule is sometimes called the "Beckham Rule" as it was introduced when it was adopted shortly before the former England and Manchester United star joined the league in 2007.
MLS said Friday that its investigation found violations involving the player categorizations of Matuidi and former Miami defender Andres Reyes, as well as the underreporting of salary budget amounts for players Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Nicolas Figal and Julian Carranza.
No players at fault
However, the league stressed that none of the club's players was the subject of the investigation, committed any violation or were aware of the violations.
"Their current contracts with MLS remain in full force and effect," the statement said.
Mas issued a statement acknowledging that the club violated MLS roster rules in their inaugural season.
"We have worked closely with MLS to address these issues and have made significant changes in our management structure," he said.
"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.
"Inter Miami is an ambitious Club with big aspirations," Mas said. "We believe our fanbase, market and ownership group propel us to be one of North America's most-followed fútbol teams in the world.
"We are committed to supporting our team and building a roster we are proud of."
MLS said that Mas was fined because as managing owner he had approval of all player-related agreements and transactions and was responsible for making sure the cub was in compliance.
He cooperated with the investigation, but was found to have failed to disclose his knowledge of the Matuidi violation "at the appropriate time required under MLS rules.
"The investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of Inter Miami owners Marcelo Claure, Masayoshi Son, Jose Mas, and David Beckham," the league added.
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