Argentina's soccer star Diego Maradona, left, and West German goalkeeper...

Argentina's soccer star Diego Maradona, left, and West German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher are holding their World Cup Soccer Ball awards while posing with two young soccer players during the Soccer Golden Shoe Award ceremony held in Paris, France, on Nov. 13, 1986. Diego Maradona's heirs filed a lawsuit to try to stop the auction of a trophy he was awarded after the 1986 World Cup won by Argentina. Credit: AP/Michael Lipchitz

A French court has ruled the auction of a trophy awarded to the late Diego Maradona after the 1986 World Cup can go ahead as planned despite opposition from his heirs.

Maradona’s heirs tried to stop the auction of the Golden Ball trophy he received for being the best player of the 1986 World Cup by starting an urgent judicial procedure.

Gilles Moreu, a lawyer for Maradona's heirs, told The AP that Thursday's court ruling “was not favorable” and said he would lodge an appeal. The trophy is set to be auctioned next Thursday in Paris by the Aguttes auction house, which did not immediately comment on the ruling.

The Golden Ball was missing for decades after it disappeared in uncertain circumstances and only recently resurfaced. Maradona’s heirs say the trophy was stolen and claimed the current owner wasn’t entitled to sell it. Aguttes said the trophy reappeared in 2016 among other lots that were acquired from a private collection at auction in Paris.

Moreu said the president of the Nanterre court outside Paris considered the current owner of the trophy, identified as Mr. Benchaieb, “should be considered as acting in good faith.”

Benchaieb and Aguttes claimed that when he bought the trophy years ago he was not aware it had been stolen.

“The Ballon d’Or is a unique piece of property, which Diego Maradona’s children want back,” Moreu said. “My clients are extremely saddened by the court’s decision.”

Gilles Moreu, left, and Lola Chunet, lawyers for Maradona's daughters...

Gilles Moreu, left, and Lola Chunet, lawyers for Maradona's daughters Dalma and Gianinna, discuss before a court hearing, Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Nanterre, outside Paris. Diego Maradona's heirs filed a lawsuit to try to stop the auction of a trophy he was awarded after the 1986 World Cup won by Argentina. Credit: AP/Michel Euler

Maradona received the award in 1986 at a ceremony at the Lido cabaret on the Champs-Élysées. It subsequently disappeared, giving rise to rumors. Some say it was lost during a poker game or sold to pay off debts. Others say Maradona stored it in a safe in a Naples bank that was robbed by local gangsters in 1989 when he played in the Italian league. Maradona’s heirs believe it was stolen from the bank.

According to the ruling seen by The AP, the court noted the absence of “any criminal complaint lodged by the footballer during his lifetime” in relation with a possible theft of the trophy, and noted that Maradona's heirs did not produce any element that a police investigation had been carried out when it disappeared.

“Proof of the existence of this theft could not be based solely on press articles,” the court said.

French judicial officials last week opened an investigation after they received a complaint relating to the resale of allegedly stolen goods. The Nanterre prosecutor's office told The AP that Thursday's court ruling won't have an influence on the probe, which is still ongoing.

Gilles Moreu, left, and Lola Chunet, lawyers for Maradona's daughters...

Gilles Moreu, left, and Lola Chunet, lawyers for Maradona's daughters Dalma and Gianinna, discuss before a court hearing, Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Nanterre, outside Paris. Diego Maradona's heirs filed a lawsuit to try to stop the auction of a trophy he was awarded after the 1986 World Cup won by Argentina. Credit: AP/Michel Euler

Maradona, who died in 2020 at age 60, captained Argentina in its 3-2 win over West Germany in the 1986 final in Mexico City. In a quarterfinal win over England he scored the “Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century.”

Aguttes said it expects the trophy “to fetch millions due to its uniqueness.”

Bidders will be asked to make a deposit of 150,000 euros ($161,000) to participate in the auction.

The Hand of God goal came when Maradona punched the ball into England’s net. Four minutes later, he weaved through England’s midfield and defense and past goalkeeper Peter Shilton for what FIFA later declared the greatest goal in World Cup history.

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