Turns out the hand of God is a litigious one. Diego Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morla says the Argentine soccer star is exploring possible legal action over Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino’s upcoming Netflix film The Hand Of God.
Maradona’s legal rep took to Twitter over the weekend to state that the soccer player did not authorize the use of his image in the movie, and that they would be making a legal petition over the misuse of a registered trademark.
The title of the film is an apparent nod to the soccer player, who used the term to describe his goal against England at the 1986 FIFA World Cup. In announcing the pic last week, Netflix was adamant that it is not a sports movie and is not about Maradona, instead stating that it will be a personal story about Sorrentino’s youth in 1980s Naples. The streamer declined to comment on today’s news.
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The two things are, however, inexorably linked. Maradona was the star of the Naples soccer team in the 80s, and the famously soccer obsessed city has held him as an icon ever since. The director is also a self-confessed sports nut, once noting that he survived a tragic accident that killed his parents when he was 16 only after he declined to go on a trip with them because he wanted to watch Maradona play for Naples against a rival Italian club.
Sorrentino has also made sports a regular theme in his work, notably in his 2015 Oscar-nominated pic Youth, which featured an overweight man with an overt likeness to Maradona (played by Roly Serrano) staying in a luxury hotel. The likeness was so striking that a video of Serrano in character kicking a tennis ball in the movie went viral after people mistook it for actual footage of Maradona.
It’s not clear if legal action could be a setback for the Netflix movie, which is still in development. The likelihood is that the producers expected this to happen, considering how famously litigious Maradona’s team are. In the past, they have sued Dolce & Gabbana, video game Pro Evolution Soccer, and even at one point threatened to take action against Maradona’s own daughters.
The soccer star, who is currently manager of Argentine Primera División club Gimnasia de La Plata, has been subject of numerous films, series and documentaries over the years. A feature doc directed by the Oscar-winning Asif Kapadia was released last year after being made with Maradona’s involvement, including several new interviews. Amazon is also working on a biopic series about Maradona, which will chart his life over the course of two series, featuring three actors playing him at different ages, and is again understood to have the soccer star’s blessing.
Here’s Matias Morla’s tweet (in Spanish):