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, their lawyer told the Associated Press on Thursday.

The footballer’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.

Lawyer Gilles Moreu told AP the court’s ruling “was not favourable to the heirs of Diego Maradona”,

The trophy is set to go under the hammer at the Aguttes auction house in Paris next Thursday.

The Golden Ball was missing for decades after it disappeared in uncertain circumstances and only recently resurfaced.

France Maradona Trophy Auction Soccer
Gilles Moreu, left, and Lola Chunet, lawyers for Diego Maradona’s heirs, said they are ‘surprised and saddened’ by the ruling (Michel Euler/AP)

Maradona’s heirs say the trophy was stolen and claimed the current owner is not 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.

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.

Mr Moreu said he and his clients are “both surprised and saddened” by the ruling.

“We intend to use all available means of recourse between now and June 6,” he said.

Maradona, who died in 2020 at the age of 60, captained Argentina in their 3-2 win over West Germany in the 1986 final in Mexico City. In a quarter-final 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 (£127,500) 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 defence and past goalkeeper Peter Shilton for what Fifa later declared the greatest goal in World Cup history.