Pele: Soccer legend files $30m lawsuit against Samsung for 'improperly using his image'

The advertisment appeared in the 'New York Times' last year

He was the man who made the beautiful game even more beautiful. Now, the Brazilian soccer legend Pele is suing Samsung, claiming that the electronics firm improperly used his identity.

The lawsuit has been filed by the former soccer star’s lawyer, Fred Sperling, and alleges that the firm used a Pele look-alike in an October advertisement for televisions in the New York Times newspaper.

While the advertisement did not name the 75-year-old, the elderly black man featured in “very closely resembles” Pele, the lawsuit says.

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The advertisment appeared in the 'New York Times' last year (YouTube)

The lawsuit says the ad will confuse consumers and hurt the value of his endorsement rights. It seeks $30m in damages, the Associated Press added. Pele has endorsement deals with other companies, including Volkswagen, Subway, Emirates and Procter and Gamble. 

The lawsuit says the ad appeared after Samsung broke off negotiations to use Pele’s image in 2013. Specifically, the lawsuit said the South Korean firm pulled out of negotiations at the last minute “and never obtained the right to use Pele's identity in any manner or in any format”. 

Mr Sperling is the same attorney who in August helped former Chicago Bulls basketball star Michael Jordan win an $8.9m verdict against the former supermarket chain Dominick’s. In that case, Jordan said Dominick's improperly used his identity in a print advertisement. 

“The goal is to obtain fair compensation for the unauthorized use of Pele's identity and to prevent future unauthorized uses,” Mr Sperling said. 

Samsung spokeswoman Danielle Meister Cohen said the company has no comment on the lawsuit. 

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