Maradona's "Hand of God" World Cup ball sold for $2.4 million

Maradona’s “Hand of God” World Cup ball sold for $2.4 million

LONDON (AP) – The ball scored by Diego Maradona for his “Hand of God” goal at the 1986 World Cup has been sold for nearly $2.4 million by a referee who missed soccer’s most famous handball.

Ali Ben Nasser, the former Tunisian match official who refereed the quarter-final match between Argentina and England in Mexico, owned a 36-year-old Adidas ball that fetched ¬£2 million at London’s Graham Budd auction on Wednesday. ($2.37 million) was sold.

Bin Nasser said before the auction that he felt it was the right time to share the items with the world and hoped that the buyer would put them on public display.

Maradona’s goal that gave Argentina a 1-0 lead in that match against England – but should not have been disallowed – has become part of football legend.

Maradona jumped to head the goal, but instead beat England goalkeeper Peter Shelton. Maradona later joked that it was scored “over Maradona’s head and less with the hand of God”, which led to its popular name.

Speaking before the auction, Bin Nasser said: “I don’t see the incident clearly. The two players, Shilton and Maradona, were facing me from behind.

“In accordance with FIFA’s guidelines issued before the tournament, I looked at my linesman to confirm the validity of the goal – he returned to the halfway line and indicated that he was satisfied that the goal should have stood. At the end of the game, England manager Bobby Robson said to me, ‘You did a good job, but the lineman was irresponsible.’

Maradona scored a stunning second against England with the same goal just four minutes later – the only goal used in the quarter-finals. He ran almost 70 meters from his own half and found his way into the England half before slotting past Shelton to make it 2-0. This goal was chosen as the World Cup Goal of the Century in 2002.

Argentina won the match 2-1 and qualified for the World Cup. Maradona died in 2020 at the age of 60. The next World Cup, which starts in Qatar on Sunday, will be the first since Maradona’s death.

The jersey worn by Maradona against England sold for $9.3 million in May, the highest ever auctioned piece of sports memorabilia. It was beaten by a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card, which went for $12.6 million in New York in August.

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