Bastian Schweinsteiger, a midfielder for British football club Manchester United and the captain of Germany’s national soccer team, is said to be launching legal proceedings against Hong Kong-based toymaker DiD over some Nazi soldier dolls.
Schweinsteiger plans to sue DiD for producing dolls that bear a striking resemblance to the professional footballer and dressed in Nazi military uniforms, reports say.
According to the BBC, the dolls in question are the ‘World War II Army Supply Duty – Bastian’ line produced by DiD, which stands for Dragon in Dream.
Schweinsteiger is outraged at the Nazi depiction of him and also angry that the toymaker is using his image illegally to sell the dolls.
The Bastian doll is on sale for about US$120, BBC reported, although some other media outlets say the products are yet to get into the market.
Photos posted on DiD’s official website and Facebook pages show the ‘Bastian’ range of toy soldiers are dressed in uniforms decorated with the Nazi eagle, coat and water bottle, among other things.
In a response to a query from German newspaper Bild, DiD spokesperson Patrick Chan claimed the resemblance of the figure to Schweinsteiger is purely coincidental, and that the design took no reference from any particular soccer player.
“We don’t sell any figures which resemble footballers. It is a complete coincidence that the figure ‘Bastian’ looks like Schweinsteiger,” the spokesman said.
“We thought that all Germans look like that. Bastian is also a very common name in Germany.”
Apple Daily reported that it was unable to reach DiD’s owner, a Hongkonger who bears the surname Cheung.
According to the report, Cheung said in an interview in 2009 that he started his company with HK$6 million and that the factory is in Zhongshan in China’s Guangdong province.
The toymaker’s annual sales are reportedly to be worth more than HK$50 million.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung told Apple Daily that it would be difficult for Schweinsteiger to seek compensation based on the charge that DiD had used his image for the dolls.
However, the footballer has a good chance of winning damages if he files claim over being depicted as a Nazi soldier, Luk said.
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