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The countless jerseys dedicated to Diego Armando Maradona

What is the line between sincere homage and commercial exploitation?

The countless jerseys dedicated to Diego Armando Maradona What is the line between sincere homage and commercial exploitation?

Yesterday was Diego Armando Maradona's 62nd birthday celebration, a day of joy for all football fans who were able to pay tribute to one of the most exciting star players of all time with photos, memories and, as done in Buenos Aires, with a giant mural dedicated to the Diez. But one of the ways in which to pay homage to Pibe de Oro's on-field exploits has become in recent years to make commemorative jerseys that tell a part of the extraordinary career. From the early years of Argentinos Juniors and Boca, to the brief Blaugrana interlude to the Neapolitan era without, of course, forgetting his legendary performances with his national team's jersey, every brand or club has provided for the creation of game jerseys dedicated to their most representative player. 

A number that increases significantly each year, adding a piece to the mosaic of colors and designs that tells of all the ways through which Maradona changed the places and teams he touched. There is, of course, the Napoli jersey in all its forms, from the one made by Ennerre and used during the victorious 1987-88 Serie A, which has been repurposed and reissued far and wide by the same Italian brand, by Patta, by Mundial and Copa, again by Ennerre in a circle that is unlikely to find an end, to all those made by Aurelio de Laurentiis' club to commemorate the greatest champion who became the king of the Parthenopean city. 

After the historic albiceleste kit used as the fourth jersey in various seasons, the last of these in 2020/21, sealing the relationship with the Argentine national team, last year Napoli made as many as four kits with Maradona's effigy on them to mark the passing of its number 10. Made in collaboration with EA7, they accounted for an important piece of the 15 used on the pitch, and did not convince either the fans or the heirs of the Pibe de Oro, who forbade the Neapolitan club in the commercial use of his image. Therefore, we are unlikely to see Maradona's face on the Azzurri jerseys again, unless new arrangements are made with the family's legal representatives, but Napoli will be at the center of the commemorative jerseys. 

Another historic jersey that has been used to exhaustion is that of the Argentine national team, with which Maradona won the World Cup in 1986, sealing two of the most famous goals in international football. Perhaps prompted in part by the out-of-market price of the jersey worn by the number 10 during the second half of the semifinal against England, which fetched nearly 8.5 million euros last year at Sotheby's auction house, Le Coq Sportif recently reissued the historic jersey from that World Cup. This is the third time the French brand has reissued its most iconic jersey in the past 15 years, the second in three, reflecting the strong demand for Diez jerseys without having to fish in the second-hand market. 

An extremely casual use of Diego's memory, exploited for commercial purposes rather than celebrating one of the greatest footballers who ever lived, capable of creating around his qualities with the ball a secular religion. A cult that is still alive, just look at Sunday's celebrations in Naples in the places consecrated to Maradona, and that is abundantly ridden by brands, in whose archives some trace of the Argentine fantasist's passing has remained. It is this practice, perfectly summed up by Ennerre's latest creation released to coincide with the birthday, a mash-up jersey containing all those worn by Maradona in his career, that raises the question that is then associated with all the iconic figures who died prematurely and whose greatness still illuminates the world. What is the line between sincere homage and more prosaic commercial exploitation?