World footballing legend Diego Maradona is to sue Shanghai Shenhua owner Zhu Jun for infringing his image rights, according to Chinese state media.
readers may recall a few months back that Maradona was apparently in the running to become head coach of Shenhua. The Shanghai Daily, the city’s English language state mouthpiece which usually only publishes bad news about its local football team, quoted an anonymous source who said Zhu Jun was to meet Maradona to talk about this possibility.
However, later learned that the stocky Argentinian genius was in fact meeting Zhu Jun to discuss endorsing a computer game published by Zhu’s The9 gaming company. No such agreement was reached, and Maradona later claimed his image was illegally used in an online football game called Winning Goal.
The9 has formally apologized to the 1986 World Cup Hand of God goalscorer, and used the rather flaky excuse that they, operated by one of China’s richest and most business-savvy public figures, were tricked by an unscrupulous football agent (excuse the tautological description) into believing Maradona had signed a contract granting use of his rights.
Never one to take things lying down (except cocaine perhaps) Maradona dismissed the apology out of hand and said he would take the matter up with his lawyer.
And, in a sign that he may have not ended his relationship with consciousness-altering substances, Xinhua news quoted Maradona as saying “I believe that Chinese court will bring me justice.”
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015