The referee who missed soccer’s most infamous handball sold the ball Diego Maradona punched in for his “Hand of God” goal at the 1986 World Cup for nearly $2.4 million at auction.
On Wednesday, the 36-year-old Adidas ball that fetched 2 million pounds ($2.37 million) at Graham Budd Auctions in London belonged to Ali Bin Nasser, the Tunisian former match official who officiated the quarterfinal match between Argentina and England in Mexico.
Before the auction, Bin Nasser stated he thought it was the ideal moment to share the object with the world, and he hoped the buyer would put it on display for the general public.
The goal by Maradona that gave Argentina a 1-0 lead over England in that match—but shouldn’t have been allowed—has earned a place in soccer lore.
As he leaped to head the ball, Maradona slammed it past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
Its famous name comes from Maradona’s comment that it was scored “a bit with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”
Bin Nasser stated: “I couldn’t witness the situation clearly” before the sale.
Shilton and Maradona, the two players, were standing behind me and facing me.
“By FIFA’s directives announced before the competition, I asked my linesman to confirm the accuracy of the goal; he moved back to the halfway line to indicate he was confident it should stand.
After the game, Bobby Robson, the head coach of England, told me, “You did a terrific job, but the linesman was careless.
Four minutes later, against England, Maradona scored a fantastic second goal using the identical ball—the only one used in the quarterfinal.
He maneuvered past half of the England players while running over 70 meters from his half before slipping the ball past Shilton to make it 2-0.
The World Cup Goal of the Year award in 2002 went to that goal.
Argentina defeated its opponent 2-1 to win the match and the World Cup.
At the age of 60, Maradona passed away in 2020.
The first World Cup following Maradona’s passing will take place in Qatar starting on Sunday.
The Maradona shirt he wore against England was auctioned off in May for $9.3 million, setting a record for the most money ever spent on sports memorabilia.
A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card that sold for $12.6 million in New York in August bested that record.