Following the death of the renowned Argentine footballer Diego Maradona in 2020, football fans have swept up memorabilia associated with the player for hefty amounts. Maradona’s contentious “Hand of God” ball from Argentina’s infamous World Cup match has proved to be no different, selling for the sizable amount of 2 million pounds, or over JMD$365 million.
In one of football’s most controversial games, a then 25-year-old Maradona beguiled match officials in Argentina’s 1986 World Cup match against England with a goal that continues to raise eyebrows. During the crucial moments leading to the goal, Maradona first jumped, appearing to attempt a header, but punched the ball past England’s goalkeeper, Peter Shilton. The midfielder later said he had made the score “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God,” which led to the goal and the ball’s now-famous title. Maradona landed a second goal for his team four minutes later, and Argentina defeated England 2-1, then went on to win the World Cup.
At the 1986 World Cup, football’s global governing body, FIFA, declared that referees would be allowed to keep the ball after each game they officiated. Referee Ali Bin Nasser, who missed Maradona’s handball and allowed the goal, has owned the ball since. The ball, which features designs inspired by 1986 World Cup host nation Mexico’s Aztec culture, was auctioned at the UK-based Graham Budd Auctions on Wednesday. The jersey worn by Maradona during the match was auctioned six months earlier by Sotheby’s, and unlike the ball that fell short of its 3 million pound estimations, it sold for twice its predicted value, with the auction closing at £7,142,500.
Prior to the sale, Bin Nasser said he felt it was the right time to share the piece of memorabilia with the world and went on to express his hopes that the new owner would display it in public. Defending his controversial decision to uphold Maradona’s goal, Bin Nasser said that he had not seen the incident clearly, as Shilton and Maradona were behind him.
“As per FIFA’s instructions issued before the tournament, I looked to my linesman for confirmation of the validity of the goal — he made his way back to the halfway line indicating he was satisfied that the goal should stand. At the end of the match, the England head coach Bobby Robson said to me, ‘You did a good job, but the linesman was irresponsible.” Bin Nasser stated.
Watch Maradona make his controversial goal below.