Diego Maradona, one of the greatest footballers of all time, has been “suspended” from FIFA 22 following a legal dispute.
In a message that appears when players start the game, EA states: “Due to a third party legal dispute, we must suspend Diego Maradona from appearing in FIFA Ultimate Team Packs, Ultimate Draft and the Soccer Aid World XI team.
“As such, Diego Maradona Icon Items will no longer be made available in Packs, SBCs and FUT Draft, and their price range has been fixed until further notice.
“We share our fans’ disappointment and hope to bring one of football’s greatest icons back in the game at some point in the future.”
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The issue appears to stem from a debate over who owns Maradona’s likeness rights, with an Argentinian court deciding last year that EA had potentially negotiated with the wrong party, and that it had to remove Maradona from the game until it could be determined who it should have dealt with.
According to a report on Argentinian news website Infobae in November 2021, the court found that EA had signed a commercial agreement with Stefano Ceci, the player’s former manager. However, the court came to the conclusion that Ceci had no legal authority to make such deals, and wasn’t able to prove that he did.
The debate around who owns the rights to Maradona’s image continues to be mired in controversy. Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morla claims that Maradona had granted the rights to the ‘Diego Armando Maradona’ brand to his company Sattvica before his death.
In March 2021, Sattvica was banned from using Maradona’s brands, following a complaint filed by two of Maradona’s daughters. The ban was overturned later that year, but Maradona’s daughters and Morla continue to wage a bitter war over who owns the player’s rights.
In the November 2021 court case, judge Marcelo Gota said it was “appropriate to grant the precautionary measure aimed at preventing the use of the brand in alleged infringement of trademark rights”.
He ruled that EA should take “the precautionary measure requested to immediately cease the use of the trademarks indicated by any means that are being carried out”, until it could be determined who actually owns Maradona’s rights.
“It is appropriate to adopt the required measure, until the rights of each of the parties in the proceedings […] are clarified in order to prevent the infringement of any intellectual property right, when there is a probability that any delay would cause irreparable damage to the holder of the rights,” he stated.
Until the situation is resolved, when it comes to FIFA 22, Maradona will have to continue sitting on the bench.