Cheating in Sport: The hand of God.

Cheating in Sport: The hand of God.

‘The hand of God’, a phrase that most football fans have heard of and probably all English Football fans have ingrained into their souls. The phrase that is used to describe one of the most infamous goals in World Cup history. It refers to the hand that helped Argentina knock out England of the 1986 World Cup Quarterfinal, the hand that was never penalised and the hand that belonged to the Golden Boy, Diego Maradona!


Argentina before 1986 World Cup Final


Following on from the last blog in this series where we discussed Lance Armstrong’s continuation of wrongdoings, today we will be looking at the deceitful moment in history from the often claimed ‘world’s greatest footballer’.


1986 - June 22nd, Azteca Stadium Mexico City


England vs Argentina


After a 0-0 first half, both teams had everything to play for coming out to the second half. It was in the 50th minute when Diego received the ball in the attacking third and passed three England players before passing to his teammate Valdano, Peter Hodge intercepted the next pass, flicking the ball back towards his goalkeeper Peter Shilton, which was the reason that Maradona was not offside. Maradona’s left fist got to the ball before Shilton did and managed to tap it over the safe hands into the back of the net.


Maradona immediately started celebrating with one watchful eye on the referee, and after many complaints from the England players that Maradona had, in fact, handballed it, the referee asked his linesman for assistance. The goal was confirmed to Maradona’s delight and left the England players rightfully furious.


However, It seemed at the time of the goal it was only the England players that had seen what had happened, even the English commentator Barry Davies questioned why the England players were complaining that the goal was offside when it was an obvious flick-on from Hodge. The replay of the goal still made it unclear if Maradona’s fist had touched the ball!


'Hand of God'



Maradona described his first goal as a “little with his head, and a little with the hand of God” which ignited a little more fury for the England players. However, Maradona was remembered for two goals in this match, making it one of the most spoken about football matches in footballing history.


Shortly after (54th min), Maradona single-handedly scored the goal that was voted “Goal of the Century” by voters in 2002. Maradona received the ball in his own half before dribbling 66 yds past five England players, including Shilton to slot it comfortably into the goal. There were no glances at the referee that time and Maradona could take full credit of a magnificent masterpiece.


Maradona's Goal of the Century



Gary Lineker managed to pull a goal back for England later in the game but that was all they could do. The England player’s felt cheated after the game, with some even holding grudges towards Maradona to this day!


Some may question what England could have achieved in this World Cup campaign if the goal was disallowed and the match ended differently. But you can not take away what both Argentina and Maradona accomplished the year of 1986.


Many described Argentina’s world cup winning team as a one-man show, when in fact it was a team that had a fantastic defence (5 goals scored against them in the campaign with 2 of these being in the final), dominating midfield and a brilliant manager as well as the 5ft 5 Superstar. That by no means takes credit away from Maradona as he was the best player in the team by far, but the excessive accusations of Maradona single-handedly winning the world cup undermines what a great team he was a part of.


Argentina went on to beat Belgium 2-0 with Maradona scoring both goals and then managed to dig their way out of being 2-0 down to West Germany in the final to win 3-2!


Diego Armando Maradona


Maradona’s small stature allowed him to manoeuvre better than most football players during his time, and he was able to dribble past many opposing players on a run, making him a very excitable player to watch. Before he capped Argentina to their second world cup victory in 1986, Maradona had set the record twice for the highest transfer fee in football. The first time was when he moved to Barcelona for £5 million, and the second, was when he transferred from Barca to Napoli for £6.9 million. Maradona soon became adored by Napoli fans, helping them to their best league finish (third) in 5 years in 1985. Before Maradona’s arrival to Napoli, no team from the southern peninsula in Italy had won the league title. This changed in 1986 when Maradona captained them to their first Serie A Italian Championship title which resulted in Maradona’s face being decorated around the city as well as new baby boys being named in his honour.


This shows just how on fire Maradona was leading into the 1986 World Cup campaign. Even if his first goal against England was done in such a dishonest way his overall world-class performance cannot be forgotten.


Maradona finally admitted to deliberately using his hand to score the first goal against England in 2005, along with admitting that his teammates were very hesitant to celebrate with him!


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