Maradona appeals to EU over tax bill

The Napoli icon is accused of owing €39 million in unpaid taxes - an allegation which the Argentine has repeatedly denied

Diego Maradona is appealing to the European Union (EU) to step in as arbitrator in his ongoing feud with the Italian tax department.

The former Napoli No.10 stands accused of owing €39 million in unpaid taxes, a charge the Argentine insists is completely unfounded.

The state authorities claim the mammoth tax bill was built up during Maradona's memorable stint at the San Paolo between 1984 and 1991.

During that period, the World Cup winner guided Napoli to their only two Serie A titles, the Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana and the Uefa Cup.

"It's important that people know the truth. I really don't have to hide anything," Maradona told reporters on Friday.

"I don't even have €40m to give to the taxman because it's really difficult to earn more than that in a lifetime to be honest, let alone after tax."

Maradona's lawyer, Angelo Pisani, added: "Diego is innocent because he has never been found guilty of tax fraud. If the authorities suspect wrongdoing, it's up to them to show the proof."

Maradona is revered in Naples, where he remains the club's all-time leading scorer with 115 goals ahead of Attila Sallustro (108), Edinson Cavani (104) and Antonio Vojak (103).

The Partenopei finished runners-up to Juventus last season and are 13 points off the pace in 2014, but Maradona believes the club can reach the summit of the Serie A with more investment in the squad.

"Napoli are a team that can achieve winning the league but they are always missing something to get there," the 53-year-old said.

"I believe that they should have a bigger squad because nowadays you have to play on Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday and even Friday sometimes.

"That's why I think that Napoli should spend a bit more and get a bigger squad so that I am sure they will be able to be competitive in every tournament."