The infamous “Hand of God” ball that Diego Maradona used to lift Argentina past England in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals sold for $2.37 million at auction last week, according to The Associated Press.
The ball was originally expected to sell for $3.6 million, NPR reported. It was part of Graham Budd Auction’s one-day sale of World Cup memorabilia.
The ball belonged to match referee Ali Bin Nasser, who officiated the match. At the time, FIFA allowed match referees to keep the ball after officiating a match, according to CNN.
It was the second “Hand of God” memorabilia item to sell this year.
In May, the jersey Maradona wore during the game was sold for $9.3 million, which set a record as the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia sold at auction, according to the auction house’s website. The jersey belonged to England’s Steve Hodge, who swapped jerseys with Maradona after the match.
The record set by the jersey has since been broken twice, most recently by a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card, which sold for $12.3 million in August, according to the auction house.
Why is it called the “Hand of God” ball?
The memorable Argentina-England game was tied 0-0 until Maradona leaped into the air in front of England’s goalkeeper Peter Shilton and headed the ball into the net — or so the officials thought.
Pictures of the goal told a different story.
According to the images, Maradona had raised his arm and used it to punch the ball into the net, meaning the goal shouldn’t have counted.
The England players knew it too. Former England winger John Barnes spoke about the controversial call in an interview with Goal in July.
“We all saw it,” he said. “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.”
After the match, Maradona said he scored the goal “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God,” according to AP.
But the ball is more than the “Hand of God” ball. Unlike today, only one ball was used the entire match, meaning it’s also the ball Maradona used when he scored what would be voted the World Cup Goal of the Century four minutes later, according to the auction house.
Argentina won the match 2-1 and went on the win the 1986 World Cup.