The star is considered one of the best footballers ever. He was magical both on and off the pitch, and now he’s off the virtual pitch as well.
EA Sports negotiated a deal to use his rights with the wrong person
“Due to a third party legal dispute, we must suspend Diego Maradona from appearing in FIFA Ultimate Team Packs, future FUT content and the Soccer Aid World XI in EA SPORTS FIFA 22,” the sports franchises’ statement said.
“As such, Diego Maradona ICON Items will no longer be made available in Packs, SBCs and FUT Draft. We have always included Maradona’s likeness and image under valid license agreements, first with Mr. Maradona himself and later with the company entitled to license 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.”
He won’t be deleted from squads, but he is unavailable for the time being. His finances are stuff of legend, but the sports franchise were able to maintain a deal for his image rights for years. So what happened?
EA Sports and the case of Maradona’s image rights
The dispute over who owns his rights started almost immediately after his death in 2020. Last year, EA Sports was informed it had potentially negotiated a deal to use his name and likeness with the wrong person. His former manager, Stefano Ceci was asked to prove that he owned the rights to his name and likeness.
He was not able to prove that he had the ability to negotiate deals in the late footballer’s name. The stars former lawyer, Matias Morla, claims the footballer left the rights to his company prior to his death. That claim is something that was argued by two of the star’s daughters, but there is no paper trail to either confirm or deny almost any of the claims that various parties have brought forth.
Other FIFA 2022 player removals
This isn’t the first time EA Sports has removed a player from FIFA 2022 this year. They had to remove Benjamin Mendy before the game launched after he was arrested. The former Premier League star, who was also let go by his former club Man City, has been charged with four counts of rape and one charge of sexual assault. The charges were filed back in August, but Mendy’s trial didn’t begin until earlier this year.
EA Sports also had to remove Mason Greenwood from various game modes after allegations and evidence that that the former Premier League and Manchester United player had sexually assaulted and raped her. The player is no longer available in any of FIFA 2022’s offline modes. Greenwood’s FUT card is still currently available in Ultimate Team, and it remains unclear whether he will eventually be removed from the game entirely as the investigation into the allegations continue.
The future of FIFA 2022 and EA Sports
There’s still a lot of questions about if the sports franchise will be call FIFA at all moving forward. The deal between the franchise and FIFA has run out and its unclear that either side in interested in making a dea.
“FIFA will adopt a new commercial positioning in gaming and eSports to ensure that it is best placed to make decisions that benefit all football stakeholders,” read a FIFA statement made in October. “FIFA is bullish and excited about the future in gaming and eSports for football, and it is clear that this needs to be a space that is occupied by more than one party controlling all rights.”
On the gaming side, the sports franchise has filed a trademark for the name ‘EA Sports FC’, leading insiders to believe that this will be the new name of the game if the two parties do finally decide on calling it quits.
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