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Maradona ‘Hand of God’ World Cup ball to be auctioned; Tunisian referee to cash in

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By Associated Press


The ball used when Diego Maradona scored his “Hand of God” goal against England at the 1986 World Cup has been put up for auction by the Tunisian referee who was in charge of the game and missed soccer’s most famous handball.

Graham Budd Auctions said Thursday that they expect the 36-year-old Adidas ball, which referee Ali Bin Nasser owns, to fetch between $2.7 million and $3.3 million when it goes up for sale in Britain on Nov. 16, four days before the World Cup in Qatar kicks off.

The goal that gave Argentina a 1-0 lead in the quarterfinal against England in Mexico City has become part of World Cup legend. Maradona jumped as if to head the ball but instead punched it past goalkeeper Peter Shilton. England players protested to Nasser but the goal stood. Maradona quipped afterward that it was scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God,” leading to its iconic name.

Maradona used the same ball, the only one used in the quarterfinal, for his brilliant second goal four minutes later. The Argentina great ran 68 meters from his own half and weaved his way past half the England team before slipping the ball past Shilton. That goal was voted the World Cup Goal of the Century in 2002.

Argentina won the game 2-1 and went on to lift the World Cup, and the tournament launched Maradona as one of the game’s greatest players. Maradona died in 2020 at the age of 60.

“This ball is part of international football history,” Nasser said in a statement from Graham Budd Auctions. “It feels like the right time to be sharing it with the world.”

The shirt worn by Maradona in that game against England was sold for $9.3 million at an auction in May, which was at the time the highest price ever paid at auction for a piece of sports memorabilia. The record was beaten by a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card, which sold for $12.6 million in August.

Nasser will also auction the referee shirt he wore for the quarterfinal, Graham Budd Auctions said, and another shirt that Maradona signed for his “eternal friend” at a reunion years after the game.