Inter Miami have been hit with a record $2 million fine and other sanctions after violating MLS' roster and salary rules following the signing of France international midfielder Blaise Matuidi.
Co-owned by former Manchester United, England and Real Madrid star David Beckham, Inter Miami lured Matuidi from Serie A champions Juventus to the United States for their inaugural season in 2020 – the World Cup-winning star teaming up with Gonzalo Higuain after the club used targeted allocation money (TAM).
But the MLS deemed Inter Miami were not roster compliant in March – meaning the team effectively had four designated players last season rather than the three allowed.
Following an extensive investigation on Saturday (AEST), Inter Miami's violations were found to include the incorrect roster categorisation for Matuidi and Andres Reyes – who should have occupied a designated player slot.
The violations also included undisclosed agreements that resulted in the underreporting of salary budget amounts for players Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Nicolas Figal and Julian Carranza.
As a result, Inter Miami – along with the stiffest fine in league history – had a reduction of $2,271,250 in allocation dollars for the 2022 and 2023 seasons, while managing owner Jorge Mas was fined $250,000 and former sporting director Paul McDonough received a suspension through the 2022 campaign and he subsequently departed Atlanta United.
"The integrity of our rules is sacrosanct, and it is a fundamental principle of our league that our clubs are responsible for adhering to all league regulations," MLS commissioner Don Garber said.
"Our rules will not be compromised. These sanctions reflect the severity of Inter Miami's violations, should encourage complete cooperation by all parties in future investigations, and will serve as a deterrent for clubs from violating roster rules."
The investigation also found no wrongdoing on the part of Inter Miami owners Marcelo Claure, Masayoshi Son, Jose Mas, and Beckham.
In a statement, Mas said: "Inter Miami CF acknowledges that the club violated Major League Soccer's roster rules in our first season.
"We have worked closely with MLS to address these issues and have made significant changes in our management structure. Following our inaugural season, we took a deep look at our soccer operations leadership group and made decisions that not only strengthened our internal roster compliance measures, but also better positioned us to build a sustainable, long-term competition strategy with the hiring of Chris Henderson as chief soccer officer and sporting director in 2021.
"Inter Miami is an ambitious club with big aspirations. We believe our fanbase, market and ownership group propel us to be one of North America's most-followed futbol teams in the world. We are committed to supporting our team and building a roster we are proud of."
Inter Miami – led by head coach Phil Neville this season – are ninth in the 14-team Eastern Conference with eight points from seven games in 2021.