‘Hand of God’ ball sells for £2m at auction

November 17 – The ball punched in by Diego Maradona for his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal for Argentina at the 1986 World Cup has been sold at auction for nearly £2 million by the referee who missed the sport’s most notorious handball.

The white Adidas ‘Azteca’ ball, which was owned by Tunisian match referee Ali Bin Nasser, had been tipped to fetch up to £3 million when it went under the hammer on Wednesday.

The grudge clash with England was defined by two contrasting goals scored by the late Maradona, who died aged 60 of heart failure in November 2020. For the first, Maradona punched the ball into the net and later said the goal had been scored “a little with the head of Maradona, a little with the hand of God”.

The second came just four minutes later as Maradona sped past five English players to score the ‘Goal of the Century’, according to a 2002 poll. Argentina won 2-1 and went on to win the World Cup.

Ahead of the sale, Bin Nasser said he felt it was the right time to share the item with the world and expressed hope the buyer – who has not been disclosed – would put it on public display.

Bin Nasser also defended his decision to let Maradona’s contentious first goal stand. “I couldn’t see the incident clearly. The two players, Shilton and Maradona, were facing me from behind.

“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’.”

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