FIFA 22 ‘suspend’ Argentinian legend Diego Maradona over rights issue

Turns out EA got permission from the wrong person (pic: Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images)

Diego Maradona has been removed from FIFA 22 following a legal dispute over who actually owns the rights to his likeness.

EA has removed another legendary player from FIFA 22 but this time it’s for boring legal reasons, rather than anything they’ve done.

Argentinian player and manager Diego Maradona, who died in 2020, is now no longer available in FIFA 22, including in the game’s Ultimate Team Packs.

All EA has said is ‘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 11 in EA Sports FIFA 22.

‘As such, Diego Maradona ICON Items will no longer be made available in Packs, SBCs and FUT Draft.’

This is the exact same statement that appears when you boot up FIFA 22. Although EA hasn’t gone into any detail, it’s believed that this has to do with a rights issue and not for any scandalous reasons.

Back in November, a judge ordered Maradona’s removal from the game because EA didn’t actually have the rights to use his likeness, according to Argentinian news site Infobae.

That’s not to say EA took Maradona’s likeness without permission. Apparently, it thought it did as it had signed an agreement with Stefano Ceci, Maradona’s former manager.

However, it turned out that Ceci never had the authority to do so, as he was unable to prove he had any legal claim over Maradona’s likeness.

EA is hopeful that it will be able to reintroduce Maradona to the game at some point. It likely now has to renegotiate with whoever actually holds the rights. Unfortunately, that may not be any easier.

The current rights holder is believed to be Maradona’s lawyer, Matías Morla, but he is also engaged with a legal battle over its ownership with Maradona’s own daughters.

It’s impossible to tell how long, if ever, it will take to get Maradona back in FIFA 22. Unless EA fancies wading into another legal dispute over it, it could be for a very long time.

FIFA 22 is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5,  PC, and Stadia.

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