Maradona ‘Suspended’ From FIFA Because His Image Rights Are An Absolute Shambles

Maradona ‘Suspended’ From FIFA Because His Image Rights Are An Absolute Shambles
Photo: Alessandro Sabattini, Getty Images

Argentinian star Diego Maradona — who passed away in 2020 — has long been one of a number of ‘Icons’ available to control in EA Sports’ FIFA series, alongside other retired greats like Pele and Johan Cryuff. Until this week, when his avatar was ‘suspended’ by EA.

A couple of days ago players began noticing a message popping up from EA Sports, notifying players that “Due to a third party legal dispute, we must suspend Diego Maradona from appearing”:

Screenshot: FIFA 22Screenshot: FIFA 22

Notice

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 Xl 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.

– The EA SPORTS FIFA Team

That sucks for Maradona/FIFA fans, but the real story here is the chaos taking place behind the scenes. As Eurogamer report, late last year it emerged that Maradona’s former agent Stefano Ceci, who had claimed to own the player’s rights and who had signed the paperwork with EA Sports, didn’t actually own those rights.

Matías Morla and his company Sattvica did, having taken them over in August 2020. Now it gets even more absurd; Morla has then spent the last two years involved in a number of legal battles with Maradona’s daughters, who argued he shouldn’t have got hold of the rights in the first place.

Given the absolute state of all this, players shouldn’t be expecting Maradona’s return to the series until it’s all sorted out. If it’s ever sorted out. An EA representative tells Kotaku:

We have always included Maradona’s likeness and image under valid licence agreements, first with Mr. Maradona himself and later with the company entitled to licence Maradona’s image rights worldwide.

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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