Maradona sues Chinese firms over online game

Beijing: Argentine football icon Diego Maradona is suing popular Chinese web portal Sina and an Internet company for using his name and image to promote an online game, state media said Wednesday.

Maradona is seeking 20 million yuan ($3 million) in compensation from Sina and The9 Limited which designed the game "Winning Goal", the Global Times quoted an official from the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court as saying.

"The case was accepted yesterday (Monday)," said Chen Shi, a spokesman for the court.

Officials at the court in the Chinese capital would not respond to AFP requests for comment and calls to The9 went unanswered.

A Sina spokeswoman who declined to be named said the matter "is a legal procedure. We cannot comment."

The9 and Sina launched the game last June claiming Maradona was a celebrity spokesman, the report said.

But Maradona says he never gave permission to the Chinese companies to use his image, the official Xinhua news agency said earlier this month, citing a statement from the football legend.

The9 apologised and said they had been tricked by a Chinese football agent who told them Maradona had signed an endorsement contract, Xinhua said.

"I do not accept the apology from The9 Limited, and I will continue to protect my legitimate interests through legal procedures," Maradona said in the statement.

Maradona is extremely popular among China`s legions of football fans, with state media hailing the World Cup-winning former captain the "King of Football" during a vist to Beijing last November.

Bureau Report

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