‘World’s most controversial football’: Hand of God ball up for auction after 36 years
Match referee to sell the ball that was used throughout the Argentina vs. England FIFA World Cup quarter final at Mexico ‘86
An estimate of £2.5 - £3million ($2.7 - $3.3m) has been placed on the iconic piece of football history.
The ball that was used to score two of the most famous goals in football history is going under the hammer in the UK. The ball, brought to auction by Graham Budd Auctions, is being sold next month by Ali Bin Nasser, the Tunisian referee who famously allowed one of the most controversial goals in history during the Argentina v. England 1986 World Cup quarter final. Maradona, the Argentine football hero, later claimed the goal was scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”.
The football was used throughout the contentious quarter final, which took place just four years after the end of the Falklands War. Maradona’s second goal of the match has become known as the ‘goal of the century’, where he dribbled spectacularly past five England players and goalkeeper Peter Shilton, before scoring. England fought back with an 81st minute goal from Gary Lineker which won him the Golden Boot, but ultimately, Argentina took the match 2-1, shattering England’s World Cup dreams, before going on to win the tournament.
“The timing of the match, the history between the two teams stretching back to 1951 (the first quarter final between the two teams in 1966 was also controversial for the sending off of the Argentinian captain Antonio Rattan), and the famous handball have all led to this match going down as one of the most famous and emotive matches in football history. With the history surrounding the ball, we are expecting this lot to be hugely popular when it comes up for auction”
said Graham Budd, chairman of Graham Budd Auctions, which is auctioning the ball in its World Cup Special auction on 16th November 2022.
Ali Bin Nasser said: “This ball is part of international football history - it feels like the right time to be sharing it with the world. At Mexico ‘86 I was among the 42 referees at the tournament. African referees didn’t get the same opportunities as those in Europe, so to be told by FIFA that I was chosen because I was among the best in the world was a huge honour and a career highlight.”
The football has an estimate of £2.5 - £3m. Alongside the famous football, the World Cup auction will see several other items of sporting memorabilia up for sale, including the shirt worn by Bin Nasser during the quarter final, and a shirt signed by Maradona to his ‘eternal friend’ at a reunion years later.
So far this year, a number of sporting auctions have broken records. The shirt Maradona wore during the same quarter final match was sold in May for $9.3m (£7.4m), a new world record for any piece of sporting memorabilia. This was beaten just three months later when a Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for $12.6m (£10.3m) in August. In September, Michael Jordan’s 1998 NBA finals jersey sold for $10.1 (£8.7m), which was a new world record for any ‘game worn’ sporting memorabilia, beating Maradona’s shirt.
“2022 has been an amazing year in the sports memorabilia market with records broken on three occasions. It’s an exciting time in the market and we’re wondering whether this famous football will break records as well,” continued Graham Budd.
The live auction will be streamed online on 16th November, with prospective buyers able to register and bid online from 28th October. A live stream of the final minutes of saleroom bidding will be available via www.grahambuddauctions.co.uk.
Q&A with Ali Bin Nasser, match referee and current owner of the ball:
Why are you selling the ball now?
“This ball is part of international football history - it feels like the right time to be sharing it with the world. I hope the buyer is in a position to put it on display or share it with the public in some other way.”
Why are you selling it with Graham Budd Auctions in the UK?
“England is the home of football, and has been since the game started. Graham and his team have unparalleled sporting knowledge and a big international audience, they’re the best people for the job.”
What do you remember most about your career as an international football referee?
“I remember watching the 1966 World Cup final between England and Argentina when I was 22, and thinking ‘one day I’ll be at a match like that’ - then just over 20 years later I was refereeing the same teams head to head at a quarter final. In that respect the ‘86 match was a dream come true.”
“At Mexico ‘86 I was among the 42 referees at the tournament. African referees didn’t get the same opportunities as those in Europe, so to be told by FIFA that I was chosen because I was among the best in the world was a huge honour and a career highlight.”
What do you remember the most about that game?
“After Lineker’s goal bringing the scoreline to 2-1 my clearest memory is just hoping England would score an equaliser so that the crowd and I would get another 30 minutes of this magical match.”
“As for Maradona’s first goal 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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