Soccer-MLS says Inter Miami violated budget rules to sign Matuidi

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MLS: Inter Miami CF at Nashville SC

(Reuters) -Major League Soccer (MLS) has said that Inter Miami's signing of French World Cup-winning midfielder Blaise Matuidi last year was not in compliance with their roster and budget rules and that the club could face sanctions.

The side co-owned by David Beckham recruited Matuidi on a free transfer after he left Italian champions Juventus in August. The league said last month it would launch a formal review of the deal.

"The league has concluded that Inter Miami was not in compliance with the Roster and Budget Rules during 2020," MLS said in a statement https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/inter-miami-cf-exercise-offseason-buyout-on-matias-pellegrini on Friday.

It said Matuidi was categorised as a Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) player but his pay was above the limit for TAM players so he should have been classified as a Designated Player. Teams can have up to three such players.

"As a result, Inter Miami violated the Designated Player Limit as the team had three Designated Players in addition to Matuidi during 2020."

MLS said it was finalising its investigation and would announce the outcome and any sanctions soon. Inter said when the investigation began that they would fully engage with the process.

Matuidi, 34, won three league titles at Juve after joining them in 2017 from Paris St-Germain, where he made more than 200 appearances and won four league titles. He won the World Cup with France in 2018 in Russia.

Inter Miami said separately that they have used their one off-season buyout on Argentine midfielder Matias Pellegrini's MLS contract ahead of the roster compliance deadline.

Pellegrini, who was earlier listed as an Inter Miami Designated Player, joined the club's USL League One affiliate Fort Lauderdale on loan and will not be eligible to play on the 2021 MLS roster.

Inter Miami's three Designated Players for the 2021 season are Gonzalo Higuain, Matuidi and Rodolfo Pizarro.

"We've been working with Matias, his representatives and MLS to reach an agreement, and at this time we believe this is the best option for all parties," Inter Miami Sporting Director Chris Henderson said in a statement https://www.intermiamicf.com/en/post/2021/04/16/inter-miami-cf-exercises-offseason-buyout-mat-pellegrini.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)