MLS investigating Beckham’s Miami team over Matuidi signing

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Soccer announced Friday that it is investigating whether David Beckham’s Inter Miami violated salary budget and roster guidelines by its signing of French midfielder Blaise Matuidi.

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 midfielder Matías 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.

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.

The league did not immediately respond to an email Friday asking whether those rules were modified in the negotiation to restart the season following the break caused by the pandemic.

Miami said in a statement it intended to engage with the league’s review process.

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.

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