David Beckham's Inter Miami was found by Major League Soccer to have violated league budget rules with its signing of French midfielder Blaise Matuidi, and the team bought out the contract of Argentine midfielder Matías Pellegrini to get back in compliance.
MLS said Friday that final results of the investigation, including sanctions, will be announced “in the near future.”
The league said Pellegrini is being loaned to Fort Lauderdale, the affiliate of Miami in the third tier United Soccer League's League One. That team is Miami's reserve side.
The league announced its investigation on March 5.
The 33-year-old Matuidi, a member of France’s 2018 World Cup champions, joined Miami on Aug. 13 from Juventus. Miami said it used targeted allocation money.
Each team was allowed two high-priced designated players whose budget charge could exceed the maximum, plus a third if there was a $150,000 payment to the league split among other teams, under roster rules announced by the league on March 1 last year.
Ahead of its first season as an expansion team, Miami announced it signed Argentine 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 Feb. 17, 2020; and Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuaín as a designated player from Juventus Sept. 18. Matuidi was not announced as a designated player.
“Matuidi’s compensation was above the compensation limit for a TAM player and he should have been classified as a designated player,” MLS said in a statement. “As a result, Inter Miami violated the designated player limit as the team had three designated players in addition to Matuidi during 2020.”
Pellegrini will be ineligible to play for Miami this season.
“We’ve been working with Matías, his representatives and MLS to reach an agreement, and at this time we believe this is the best option for all parties,” Miami sporting director Chris Henderson said in a statement. “Matías is a talented young player with an exciting career ahead. He will remain with the organization as we work on finding an on-field opportunity and next steps for him.”
In its March 1, 2020, announcement, MLS said its rules for the season gave each team a salary budget of $4.9 million for the first 20 players on its roster, although teams were allowed to spread that budget over 18 players, and the league permitted a maximum $612,500 salary charge per player.
Designated players carry the maximum budget charge even if above $612,500 (or $306,250 if signed in the summer transfer window).
In addition, designated players 20 and younger count a maximum $150,000, and from ages 21-23 count a maximum $200,000 ($150,000 if signed in the summer).
Each team could use $1,525,000 in general allocation money to “buy down” a player’s salary budget charge, and $2.8 million in targeted allocation money to sign new players whose salary and acquisition costs were above the maximum salary charge or to convert a designated player to a non-designated player.
Beckham, a former England captain and Manchester United star, is Miami’s co-owner and president of soccer operations. Jorge Mas is the managing owner.
Miami finished 10th among 14 teams in the Eastern Conference with seven wins, 13 losses and three draws, and it lost to Nashville 3-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
Miami opens its second season Sunday against the visiting LA Galaxy.
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