Italian Court Orders Maradona to Pay $39 Million in Back Taxes

ROME (AP) - Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona was ordered to pay about $39 million in back taxes after an Italian court rejected his appeal.

Maradona accumulated the debt while playing for Napoli from 1985-91. But he appealed claiming tax collectors failed to notify the payment injunction in time his lawyer Vincenzo Siniscalchi said Wednesday.

The court however ruled that at least one of the notifications was properly issued and ordered Maradona to pay the sum Siniscalchi said.

Maradona was hit by the tax claims in 2001 when he stepped off a plane at the Rome airport.

He led Argentina to the World Cup title in Mexico in 1986 and Napoli to its only Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990. He was kicked out of the league in 1991 after testing positive for cocaine. He spent 2 1/2 months at a rehab center in Cuba last year for cocaine addiction.