The new Diego Maradona story

Sanjay Wadhwani, CEO and co-founder, Maradona Global Limited, explains how he'll protect El Diego from rip-offs using NFTs
Sanjay Wadhwani
Maradona by Trevillion

They say you should never meet your heroes. Diego Maradona’s passing in 2020 means that I will never get that chance. However, the recent launch of Maradona Global Limited (MGL) and our relationship with his sisters and heirs, led by his middle sister Rita Maradona (Kitty), presents a different kind of peril. That of respecting and enhancing the legacy of a global icon beloved by millions and, most especially, his family. 

There have been no shortage of suitors, hoping to take on the responsibility - and opportunities - associated with the Maradona name since his untimely death, in addition to multiple attempts to capitalise on his image and likeness. The launch of Maradona Global Limited, in partnership with the Maradona sisters and Sattvica S.A. - which controls worldwide rights to the Maradona brand and likeness - represents the first and only official partnership. 

From media and entertainment, gaming, apparel and footwear, to food and beverage and the metaverse, Maradona Global has huge ambitions to create commercial opportunities - with a particular focus on the fan community and new experiences offered by web3 and the metaverse - for brands to be able to ‘work’ with Maradona again and open the door to a brand-new era of fandom.

A family business

The Maradona sisters have been intimately involved in negotiations from day one, with a clear vision of what they wanted their brother’s legacy to look like. As a potential partner, we had to be mindful of this and tailor our offering to respect their views and not to be seen as exploiting his name. This is a view shared by myself and why I set up Podium Ventures (which acts as the parent company for MGL) with an ethos we call “venture socialism”, designed to invest, and reinvest in purpose-led projects that give back to the global community.

Don’t get me wrong, the venture part is as important as the socialist. We want projects to make money. But we want to do so in a way that is sustainable, allows opportunity to be shared by many rather than concentrated in the hands of the few and gives creators more control over their content. 

With Maradona Global Ltd, and the newly launched Official Maradona Fan Club, we have the opportunity to do just that. Our plan is to create new and exciting ways for Maradona fans to engage with the sporting icon and to generate funds to support causes close to his heart with the creation of the Maradona Foundation. 

Marketing Maradona

First off the mark, is the launch of the OMFC, which fully opened in October. We soft-launched on 22 September with 1,500 limited edition NFT Access Passes aimed at early adopters in web3 which sold out in a few hours around the world. The full launch of the opening of the OMFC will bring it to a web2 audience as we offer a suite of membership benefits to Maradona fans around the world who will be able to join without the complication of crypto-wallets. Each member will have a membership card in the form of something they are used to - an NFT or a membership card, each carrying a membership number and granting exclusive access to the members’ portal on the officialmaradona.com website. 

OMFC members, whether coming in through the web2 or NFT route, will be given access to a slew of exclusive benefits from the chance to win a trip to the World Cup, hosted by the Maradona family, to early access to a new Goal Rev immersive football management game, to exclusive jewellery designed by a celebrity jewellery designer (and superfan of Maradona!).  As well as offering entry into an elite inner circle of Maradona fans, the NFTs are artwork in themselves, a digital-age update to the football cards and stickers you might have collected as a kid. But these are designed by renowned sports illustrator, Paul Trevillion, and are one of only 5,000 that will ever be created. 

Over time, holders should see the value appreciate, not only through scarcity on the secondary market but on the additional membership values that can be unlocked. Underpinning this, is the use of blockchain technology, through our sister company, MetaFrames, that can authenticate ownership, provenance and any changes to the smart contract. It’s blockchain’s immutable ledger technology that really helps to ensure Maradona’s legacy, overcoming intellectual property and sports memorabilia’s risk of being fraudulently obtained or replicated without permission or attribution to the original rightsholder. The new technology will be employed in all digital and physical collectibles offered to OMFC members (who will always have priority access) and to the wider fan base around the world. 

In a world where a deceased celebrity’s likeness can often be reproduced and exploited, this technology can help with brand guardianship and stewardship by creating a next-gen content and experience company in a trusted environment. 

An enduring legacy

The vision for Maradona Global is for it to be a vessel to divert profits from commercial ventures into the causes and charities that Maradona was most affiliated with, including projects to combat child poverty, and educational programmes - work which he began in his lifetime and one of his last wishes was that his sisters continue this work. 

To have been entrusted with this responsibility is a privilege we won’t take lightly. We want to honour Maradona’s wishes and maintain the credibility of his image by harnessing the engagement and support of his global fanbase to create an enduring and inspiring legacy for generations to come. 

Written by
Sanjay Wadhwani
Written by
November 15, 2022