PARMA: Former stars Juan Sebastián Verón, Hernán Crespo, Lilian Thuram and Hristo Stoichkov are among 11 players being accused by Italian prosecutors over the collapse of the dairy and grocery giant Parmalat writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The company sponsored Parma during a decade when the local club won four European trophies and four domestic prizes.

Prosecutors claim that the players signed fraudelent promotional contracts through which they were paid a total of $12m to avoid tax. The players face a claim to return their monies from investigation leader Paola Dal Monte.

The former Parma players named are: Argentinians Verón (also ex Sampdoria, Lazio, Chelsea, Manchester United and Estudiantes de La Plata) and Crespo (also ex Milan, Inter and Chelsea), Colombian Faustino Asprilla (ex Newcastle), Bulgarian Stoichkov (also ex Barcelona), Thuram (also ex Juventus), Sweden’s Tomas Brolin, Italians Luigi Apolloni, Enrico Chiesa, Dino Baggio, Lorenzo Minotti and Massimo Crippa.

All played for Parma between 1992 and 2003 and are accused of involvement in the bankruptcy of of the Parmalat group and of its owner, Calisto Tanzi, who was also president and owner of the football club.

According to Dal Monte, the money was siphoned out of the company fraudulently via publicity contracts signed by the players or their legal representatives.

The contracts linked to Verón were worth $5.6m, those of Asprilla $44m and Crespo $2m.

Parma won the Coppa Italia in 1992, 1999 and 2002, the Supercoppa Italiana in 1999, the UEFA Cup in 1995 and 1999, the European Supercup in 1993 and the now-defunct Cup-winners Cup in 1993.