David Beckham’s Inter Miami were found by Major League Soccer to have violated league budget rules with the signing of the France midfielder Blaise Matuidi. MLS said on Friday that final results of the investigation, including possible sanctions, will be announced “in the near future”.
The league concluded that Matuidi, who joined the team from Juventus last August, “should have been classified as a designated player” for the 2020 season because of his salary.
Each MLS franchise is allowed up to three high-priced designated players, whose wages do not count towards the salary cap. The ruling means Inter Miami had four – Matuidi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Mexico’s Rodolfo Pizarro and Argentina’s Matías Pellegrini.
Inter Miami have bought out Pellegrini’s contract to get back in compliance, with the midfielder loaned out to Fort Lauderdale, an affiliate team who play in the USL League One, the third tier in the US. Pellegrini will be ineligible to play for Miami this season.
When Matuidi joined Miami, the team said it used targeted allocation money (TAM). However, MLS concluded that “Matuidi’s compensation was above the limit for a TAM player and he should have been classified as a designated player”. adding: “As a result, Inter Miami violated the designated player limit as the team had three designated players in addition to Matuidi during 2020.
“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,” the 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.”
Beckham is Miami’s co-owner and president of soccer operations. Ironically, it was the former England captain’s move to LA Galaxy in 2007 that led to designated players being introduced – known informally as “the Beckham rule”.
Inter Miami begin their MLS 2021 season under the new head coach Phil Neville on Sunday against the Galaxy. In their debut season, they finished 10th in the Eastern Conference before losing against Nashville in the first round of the playoffs.