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The 'Hand of God' soccer ball punched by Diego Maradona is up for auction

The match ball used in the 1986 FIFA World Cup football match between Argentina and England is pictured ahead of its auction, at Wembley Stadium in London on Nov. 1.
Isabel Infantes
/
AFP via Getty Images
The match ball used in the 1986 FIFA World Cup football match between Argentina and England is pictured ahead of its auction, at Wembley Stadium in London on Nov. 1.

What is the worth of the soccer ball used in one of the most controversial World Cup moments of all time?

We'll soon know, as the ball punched by Argentine legend Diego Maradona in what is known as the "Hand of God" goal goes to auction on Wednesday.

The lot is part of a one-day special auction of World Cup items and memorabilia at Graham Budd Auctions in the U.K. The ball may sell for as much as $3.6 million.

In May, the jersey worn by Maradona that day fetched $9.3 million, the highest price ever paid for a piece of sports memorabilia at auction.

The ball was used for the duration of a quarterfinal match between Argentina and England at the 1986 World Cup at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

Six minutes into the second half, Maradona jumped into the air toward the ball, alongside England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. The ball soared into the net, and Maradona celebrated with his teammates.

It was clear to the England players — and to viewers of the replay later — that Maradona had struck the ball with his fist. After the match, Maradona would tell reporters that he had scored "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God."

The ball is being sold on behalf of the match's referee, Ali Bin Nasser of Tunisia, who is part of the controversy as well.

"All of us on the bench — the players, the coaches, the manager — we all saw it clear as day. We all knew he'd handled the ball, so we just couldn't believe the referee hadn't seen it," former England player John Barnes told Goal in July.

Bin Nasser has maintained that the linesman, Bogdan Dochev of Bulgaria, had the better view and never signaled a handball.

Four minutes after that infamous goal, Maradona scored one of the great goals in World Cup history, known as "the goal of the century." The game would end 2-1, after England's Gary Lineker scored in the 81st minute.

Argentina would go on to win the World Cup, beating West Germany in the final 3-2.

Maradona died at age 60 of heart failure and pulmonary edema in 2020.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.