Napoli Banned from Using Maradona's Image on Shirts

SSC Napoli can no longer use Diego Maradona's image on their football shirts, after a judge ruled in favour of Maradona's children in a recent court case.

Napoli Banned from using Maradona on Their Shirts

Diego Maradona is considered God in Naples thanks to his spell at i Partenopei in the late 80s and early 90s, during which he led the club to their first and second - and still only - Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana and Uefa Cup.

His death in 2020 was met by tributes from around the world, but was perhaps mourned in Naples more than anywhere else. Fans left flowers, lit candles and held vigils, while Napoli's Stadio San Paolo became the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona and the legacy of a true legend was "honoured" with a slew of tribute shirts.

Kappa's 20-21 tribute shirt bore the blue and white stripes of Argentina, while EA7 took things further in 21-22, using Maradona's face with a fingerprint graphic, designed by architect Giuseppe Klain, on a set of three jerseys.

They also released a "D10S" tracksuit collection bearing his likeness. Napoli had obtained the image rights from businessman Stefano Ceci, who had signed a contract with Maradona himself just a few months before his death.

Maradona was entitled to 50% of profits made from the sale of his image rights by Ceci, but Ceci struck a deal with Napoli for only €22,500. Napoli then made €900,000 from the sale of the 21-22 Maradona shirts. The judge ruled that Ceci's actions in accepting such an undervalued price for the deal were negligible and "appear to be a serious damage to the expectations of the heirs" and resulted in the family losing out on a lot of money. Part of the agreement was also that Ceci would seek their consent before agreeing any deals on the image rights, which he did not do in the case of the Napoli deal.

Stefano Ceci pictured with Maradona.

The court ruling prevents Napoli from using Maradona's image on any products.

Napoli sold all of the tribute jerseys shortly after their release, so by the time of the trial it was too late to intervene. However, judge Andrea Vassallo ruled that Ceci will have assets of up to €150,000 seized and that Napoli can no longer use Maradona's image in any form on any products. That will put a spanner in the works for the club, who had already announced plans for another Maradona shirt this season and continue to use the 21-22 image on the team bus.

It is possible that they will negotiate a deal directly with Maradona's family in the meantime, if not, they may have to abandon - or at least alter - their plans for this season's tribute shirt.

Do you think this ruling is fair? Have you got any ideas for a Maradona tribute shirt that doesn't use his image or likeness? Comment below.