Gary Lineker has slammed the referee who allowed Diego Maradona’s ‘hand of god’ goal after it was revealed he plans on selling the match ball for millions at an auction in the UK next month, questioning how he is in possession of it in the first place.
The legendary late Argentine’s controversial goal – that saw him punch the ball into the net past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton – has gone down in history as one of the most iconic sporting moments, and saw the Three Lions beaten 2-1.
The loss saw England eliminated from the 1986 World Cup tournament in Mexico.
The legendary late Argentine’s controversial goal – that saw him punch the ball into the net past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton (pictured) – has gone down in history as one of the most iconic sporting moments, and saw the Three Lions beaten 2-1
Now, the referee from the match – Tunisian Ali Bin Nasser – is selling the Adidas Azteca (pictured) at auction, with bids expected to come in at around £2.5 million to £3 million
Now, the referee from the match – Tunisian Ali Bin Nasser – is selling the ball with Graham Budd Auctions on November 16, with bids expected to come in at around £2.5 million to £3 million.
It was revealed that the bungling official grabbed the ball at the end of the match, and has kept in a cupboard at his home in Tunisia ever since.
Lineker, who scored England’s solitary goal in the match – that also saw Maradona score a second that many consider to be the best ever – joined other England fans in shared his exasperation over the sale of the famous Adidas Azteca.
‘How the hell did the referee end up with the ball? Am I over it? Yeah, of course I am. Not,’ the 61-year-old player-turned-pundit said on Thursday.
New of the auction comes less than six months after Maradona’s shirt that he wore during the same game was sold for £7m by former England midfielder Steve Hodge, who had swapped shirts with the legendary player after the final whistle.
It was a world record for a piece of sports memorabilia.
‘I’m so thrilled the ref will cash in on his cock-up,’ Lineker later added, speaking to TalkSport. ‘I mean, it was fair with Steve Hodge. But the gall of the referee keeping the ball in his cupboard for all his time and now he’s going to cash in on the biggest referee’s mistake in the history of World Cup football. I mean, really?’
Gary Lineker (pictured), who scored England’s solitary goal in the match – that also saw Maradona score a second that many consider to be the best ever – joined other England fans in shared his exasperation over the sale of the famous ball
Pictured: Tunisian Ali Bin Nasser holds the match ball as Argentina captain Diego Maradona (left) shakes hands with England captain Peter Shilton (right)
England striker Gary Lineker (second left) heads in the England goal during the FIFA 1986 World Cup quarter-finals defeat by Argentina in the Azteca stadium on June 22
Other fans also expressed their anger. ‘Maradona was a cheat but at least he was a great footballer. This guy has no shame,’ one told The Sun. Another said: ‘The ball is only famous because of his terrible decision. The auction should be stopped.’
Nasser, who is now 78, has two sons. He intends to split the proceeds from the sale between his family, according to reports.
Explaining why he has now decided to cash in on the coveted match ball, 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,’ he said.
‘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.’
Nasser and Bulgarian linesman Bogdan Dochev, who died in 2017, always blamed each other for failing to notice Maradona’s hand punch the ball into the net.
‘As for Maradona’s first goal I couldn’t see the incident clearly, the two players Shilton and Maradona were facing me from behind.
Referee Bin Nasser (left) said it felt like the right time to sell the ball Maradona (right) scored the goal with
It comes months after Maradona’s shirt from the game collected £7m at auction – the highest fee for any sports memorabilia after being sold by ex-England star Steve Hodge (top left)
‘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’.
Maradona – recognised as one of the greatest footballers to ever play the game – died at the age of 60 from a heart attack in 2020.
The term ‘Hand of God’ was coined by Maradona himself, who described the goal after the game as ‘a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God’. He admitted it was a punch in 2005.
The incident led to furore from England players – with defender Terry Butcher and Peter Shilton still seething to this day and vowing never to forget the moment.
Graham Budd, chairman of Graham Budd Auctions, said his firm were expecting the ball to be ‘hugely popular’ at auction after being involved in ‘one of the most famous and emotive matches in history’.
‘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.
Maradona – seen as one of the greatest players of all time – died from a heart attack at the age of 60 in 2020
The World Cup top player Diego Maradona of Argentina (left) and the World Cup top scorer Gary Lineker of England (right) at the Adidas Golden Shoe Awards in Paris, September 1986
‘With the history surrounding the ball, we are expecting this lot to be hugely popular when it comes up for auction.’
Bin Nasser has not explained how the ball came into his possession instead of Maradona – but in most cases, the referee will take the match ball after the final whistle if no player has scored a hat-trick.
In 2015, Maradona and Bin Nasser were reunited in Tunisia when the Argentine legend visited the referee’s home, giving him a signed jersey.
‘I told him ‘it wasn’t Argentina that won the World Cup that year, it was Maradona’,’ Bin Nasser told the BBC of their meeting.
‘He replied: ‘Had it not been for you, I wouldn’t have been able to score the goal of the century’. ‘He gave me a signed jersey that said ‘Para Ali Mi Amigo Eternal’. (For Ali, my friend forever).’
After the tournament, Nasser never officiated at a World Cup again.
After their victory over England, Argentina went on to win the tournament, beating Germany in the final 3-2.
Announcing the auction, Nasser described refereeing the match as a ‘dream come true’. ‘I remember watching the 1966 World Cup final between England [and Germany] when I was 22, and thinking ‘one day I’ll be at a match like that,’ he said.
‘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.
‘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,’ he recalled.
On why he was selling the ball in the UK, he said: ‘England is the home of football, and has been since the game started,’ adding: ‘I hope the buyer is in a position to put it on display or share it with the public in some other way.’
How Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal sparked lifelong feud between the referee and assistant… who was tormented to his dying day by decision that helped end England’s 1986 World Cup dream
By Harry Howard, History Correspondent For MailOnline
They were the men who could have changed history – if only they had disallowed the world’s most famous goal in front of more than 100,000 fans.
When Diego Maradona scored his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup, the match’s Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser and his Bulgarian assistant Bogdan Dotchev exchanged hesitant glances.
Even though it was then unclear if either man had seen the Argentine’s foul, it was obvious from the reaction of England’s players that something was drastically wrong in the stadium in Mexico City.
But the two men did not communicate on the pitch – in part because the referee spoke French and English and Dotchev German and Spanish – and instead blamed each other for failing to act.
The goal was given and, after speaking through a translator in the dressing room after the match – which England lost following a second goal from Maradona’s – Bin Nasser and Dotchev never spoke ever again.
Instead, in the nearly four decades that have followed that momentous match, the two men continued to place the responsibility on each other for allowing the goal.
Dotchev, who died aged 80 in 2017 after being haunted for the rest of his life for failing to act, finally admitted in 2014 that he had seen Maradona punch the ball beyond England keeper Peter Shilton.
But he told the Bulgarian media that world governing body FIFA did not then allow assistants to discuss a decision with a referee, and added that if a European had been put in charge of the game, Maradona’s goal would have been disallowed.
Bin Nasser insisted in 2001 that his assistant had been ‘better placed’ than him and he ‘decided to trust his judgement’, adding that he believed he ‘had a good game’.
In an interview later in life, Bin Nasser, who is now aged 78, continued to blame Dotchev, saying that his assistant ‘did not raise his flag’.
He also revealed that, for three years after the match, the Bulgarian would ‘write him a little note’ every year. He claimed it read: ‘My brother, my colleague, there was only the hand of Shilton’.
The late football icon, who died in 2020 aged 60, swapped shirts with England midfielder Steve Hodge and the former player had owned the treasured item ever since until yesterday’s sale.
They were the men who could have changed history – if only they had ruled out the world’s most famous goal in front of more than 100,000 fans. When Diego Maradona scored his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup, the match’s Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser his Bulgarian assistant Bogdan Dotchev exchanged hesitant glances. Above: The moment that Maradona handballed the ball beyond England’s Peter Shilton during England’s match against Argentina
Even though it was then unclear if either man had seen the Argentine’s foul, it was obvious from the reaction of England’s players that something was drastically wrong. Above: Nasser (centre), with Dotchev (right) and other linesman Ulloa Morera
In May, the shirt that Maradona was wearing during the match against England was sold for a record-breaking £7.1million. Pictured: The shirt on display at Sotheby’s in London before it was sold
Maradona scored his infamous goal – the first of the game – in the 51st minute of the match against England, who were managed by the late Bobby Robson.
Television replays, which were being watched by an estimated one billion people around the world, clearly showed how the player had used his left hand to push the ball above and beyond Shilton
Four minutes later, the player dribbled past five shell-shocked England players: Peter Bearsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher, Terry Fenwick, Butcher again and then goalkeeper Shilton.
The second strike became known as the ‘Goal of the Century’.
A goal at the other end by Gary Lineker was not enough to rescue England and they lost the match 2-1.
After the match, Robson told how the first goal was ‘dubious’ and the second one was ‘a miracle’.
‘We have lost to a very good team. It is not easy and we have done the very best we could do,’ he added.
The infamous handball gained its nickname after Maradona’s first words following the match, in which he said the goal was made ‘a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God’.
The game was also remembered for the animosity between England and Argentina, both on the pitch and among fans. The match was being played just four years after Britain’s victory in the Falklands War.
Before the football began, Argentine fans booed the England national anthem and there were sporadic skirmishes between fans during and after the game.
Reacting to the ‘Hand of God’ goal, Shilton said afterwards: ‘It was such an obvious handball. The referee and the linesman looked at each other but neither would be positive. Maradona took a chance and got away with it.’
After the match, Bin Nasser, whose name is also spelled Bennaceur, said: ‘I had to make the decision at the time, I was the spot.
‘I have not watched any of the replays or looked at the paper. The referee is the man who must make up his own mind and stick by his decision. That is all there is to it. It is part of the game.’
Bin Nasser insisted in 2001 that his assistant had been ‘better placed’ than him and he ‘decided to trust his judgement’, adding that he believed he ‘had a good game’. Pictured: Bin Nasser in 2020 holding a loft a signed Maradona shirt which the former player gave him during a 2015 visit to his home in Tunisia
Dotchev, who died aged 80 in 2017 after being haunted for the rest of his life for failing to act, finally admitted in 2014 that he had seen Maradona punch the ball beyond England keeper Peter Shilton
Maradona is seen shaking hands with England captain Peter Shilton before the match kicked off. Behind them is referee Bin Nasser and Dotchev
: Captains Diego Maradona of Argentina and Peter Shilton of England attend a coin-toss prior to the World Cup Mexico Quarter Final match between Argentina and England
Match officials Bin Nasser, Ulloa and Dotchev are seen lining up alongside players before the match kicked off in Mexico City
The players from Argentina and England walk onto the pitch during the 1986 FIFA World Cup Quarter Final on June 22, 1986 at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico
Maradona is seen scoring his second goal against England, which came just four minutes after his ‘Hand of God’ punch
The moment that changed football forever: Maradona punches the ball beyond England’s Peter Shilton and into the back of the net
He also claimed that he had missed the handball because haemorrhoid treatment had effected his sight.
The referee was speaking in French because of his inability to communicate in English. The language barrier also meant that he could not explain his opinions or decisions to players.
Despite Bin Nasser seeming to take responsibility for allowing the goal in his comments immediately following the match, years later he pinned the blame on Dotchev.
‘I was waiting for Dotchev to give me a hint of what exactly happened but he didn’t signal for a handball. And the instructions Fifa gave us before the game were clear – if a colleague was in a better position than mine, I should respect his view,’ he said.
Dotchev then hit back with his claim that a European referee should have been put in charge of the game.
The 1986 tournament was Bin Nasser’s sole World Cup experience. Outside of the world of football, he worked as an engineer.
Dotchev had been a professional player in the 1960s and had played in the Bulgarian first division. He also had a degree in finance.
In 2001, on the 15th anniversary of the match, Bin Nasser told an Argentine newspaper: ‘After Maradona scored I hesitated for a moment, but then I saw Dotchev running towards the centre of the pitch.
The Daily Mail’s front page proclaimed how England had been beaten by ‘Magic Man’ Maradona after his ‘Hand of God’ goal
The sport headline – ‘Hand it to Diego – played on the fact that Maradona had cheated to score the goal
‘And because he was better placed than me I decided to trust his judgment. No matter what happened I still think I had a good game.’
But Dotchev insisted that his counterpart was ‘not well prepared enough’ to referee ‘such an important game’.
The Bulgarian received abuse in his home country for his part in the match, with some even calling him ‘a national traitor’, he said in an interview.
After his death in 2018, his widow Emily revealed he ‘withdrew into himself’ after the storm of controversy.
Dotchev even scrawled ‘Maradona is my gravedigger’ on the back of a photo of the player.
Emily claimed Bin Nasser had told her husband before the fixture ‘you don’t have to do any work – it will all be my calls’.
‘I’ll never forgive that referee and I’ll never forgive Diego Maradona,’ she said, according to The Sun.
‘After the World Cup our life was ruined. Bogdan withdrew into himself and friends never said hello to me again. It wasn’t a Hand of God for us, it was a kick in the teeth.’
Speaking in 2015, Dotchev finally admitted that he had seen Maradona’s handball but claimed FIFA rulings said he should only offer his verdict to the referee if asked to do so.
‘I saw the Argentinian played with hand. During those times FIFA’s rules allowed to the assistant referee to give his opinion only if asked by the referee,’ he said.’
‘The referee admitted the goal even before taking a look at me to check the situation. We never had a communication – Bin Nasser knew only his native language.’
England’s players are seen lining up alongside their Argentine counterparts before their respective national anthems were played. Argentine fans booed England’s rendition of God Save the Queen
Shilton shakes hands with Maradona in front of the match officials. Shilton said after the match: ‘It was such an obvious handball. The referee and the linesman looked at each other but neither would be positive. Maradona took a chance and got away with it’
The former referee also blamed Maradona for destroying his career and his life.
He said: ‘Diego Maradona ruined my life. He is a brilliant footballer but a small man. He is low in height and as a person too.’
Unlike Dotchev, Bin Nasser continued working in football and went on to become part of a committee that worked to reform Tunisian football. One of his sons also followed him into refereeing.
England midfielder Hodge was the player who unintentionally flicked the ball to Maradona before his infamous goal.
Although he has owned Maradona’s shirt ever since the match, the treasure has spent the last 20 years on loan at the National Football Museum in Manchester.
It was sold at Sotheby’s in May this year – marking a new auction record for any item of sports memorabilia.
The auction house described the famous blue number 10 jersey on its website as in ‘good overall condition consistent with heavy use, perspiration and athletic activity’ with ‘slight de-threading on hemming on the front bottom of shirt, and minor spots throughout’.
Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectables, said: ‘This historic shirt is a tangible reminder of an important moment not only in the history of sports, but in the history of the 20th century.
‘In the weeks since we announced the auction we have been inundated by sports fans and collectors alike, with a palpable excitement in the air for the duration of the public exhibition – and this unfiltered enthusiasm was echoed in the bidding.
Former England midfield player Steve Hodge with the infamous Argentina shirt in 1997. He and Maradona swapped shirts after the match
‘This is arguably the most coveted football shirt to ever come to auction, and so it is fitting that it now holds the auction record for any object of its kind.’
In his autobiography, Maradona, who died in November 2020 at the age of 60, said: ‘It was like beating a country, not a football team.’
And in interviews in later life, he referred to the two referees in the 1986 match as ‘my amigos’. In 2015, he visited Bin Nasser at his home in Tunisia and gave him one of his shirts.
The former referee posed for pictures with the signed shirt in 2020.
The previous auction record for any sports memorabilia was the original autographed manuscript of the Olympic Manifesto from 1892, which sold at Sotheby’s for 8.8 million US dollars in December 2019.
It emerged after the sale that Argentina want the shirt’s new owner to let the shirt be exhibited in the South American country on October 30, when Maradona would have been 62.
Argentine collector Marcelo Ordas broke down in tears after losing out in the bidding process.
The buyer remained anonymous, but there are reports the shirt’s new owners are from the Middle East and are linked to Manchester City.