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MLS fines Inter Miami, bans McDonough after Matuidi investigation concludes


Major League Soccer has concluded its investigation into Inter Miami’s signing of Blaise Matuidi, and the sanctions are significant.

MLS announced on Friday evening the findings into Inter Miami’s 2020 acquisition of Matuidi, who was initially added to the team as a Targeted Allocation Money signing despite receiving compensation that should have classified him as a Designated Player. The league had revealed that discovery in April, but disclosed on Friday that Matuidi and former Inter Miami centerback Andres Reyes were both incorrectly categorized on the team roster and should have occupied DP slots.

Additionally, the league found that forward Julian Carranza and defenders  Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Nicolas Figal also had salary budget amounts that were underreported due to “undisclosed agreements.”

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The penalties for the violations include a $2 million fine for Inter Miami, an additional $250,000 penalty for managing owner Jorge Mas, and a reduction of $2,271,250 in allocation dollars for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

Former Inter Miami sporting director and Atlanta United vice president of soccer operations Paul McDonough has also been banned from being involved with MLS through the 2022 season for his involvement in the dealings. Atlanta United announced on Friday that it has mutually agreed to part ways with McDonough immediately after the league’s announcement.

According to the MLS statement, none of Inter Miami’s players involved committed any violations, nor were aware of the infractions. Fellow team owners David Beckham, Jose Mas, Marcelo Claure, and Masayoshi Son also did not do any wrongdoing, according to the league.

“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 league-issued statement.  “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.”

Major League Soccer’s investigation, which began officially in March, included interviews with Inter Miami staff and ownership. The review included 1,400 pages of documents, and found that Jorge Mas approved all player-related agreements and transactions and was thus ultimately responsible for compliance with league rules.

Mas was cooperative with the investigation and alerted MLS investigators to information regarding the undisclosed player-related agreements, per the press release, but the league found that he did not disclose his knowledge of the Matuidi violation at the appropriate time required under MLS rules.

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“Inter Miami CF acknowledges that the club violated Major League Soccer’s roster rules in our first season,” said Mas in a team-issued statement. “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.

“Inter Miami is an ambitious club with big aspirations,” added Mas. “We believe our fanbase, market and ownership group propel us to be one of North America’s most-followed football teams in the world. We are committed to supporting our team and building a roster we are proud of.”

The news of the findings comes one day before Inter Miami welcomes D.C. United to Drv Pnk Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the first game at the venue that will operate at full capacity.

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