By JILL LAWLESS
LONDON (AP) — The shirt worn by Diego Maradona when he scored the controversial “Hand of God” goal against England at the 1986 World Cup has sold for 7.1 million pounds (9 .3 million), the highest price ever paid at auction for a piece of sports memorabilia.
Auctioneer Sotheby’s sold the shirt in an online auction which ended on Wednesday. He did not identify the buyer.
Maradona scored twice in the quarter-final match in Mexico City on June 22, 1986, just four years after Britain and Argentina fought a war for the Falkland Islands. The Argentine great’s first goal was ruled as a header, but the ball had bounced off Maradona’s fist, out of sight of the referee.
Maradona said afterwards that he was marked “a little with Maradona’s head, and a little with the hand of God”.
Maradona’s second goal saw him dribble almost the entire England team before beating goalkeeper Peter Shilton. In 2002, he was voted “goal of the century” in a FIFA poll.
Argentina won the match 2-1 and won the World Cup.
After the match, Maradona swapped his shirt with England midfielder Steve Hodge, who gave it on long-term loan to England’s National Football Museum in Manchester before putting it up for sale.
Maradona, considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, struggled with cocaine abuse and other excesses and died in November 2020 at age 60.
After Sotheby’s announced the upcoming sale last month, people close to Maradona expressed doubts that the blue No.10 shirt was the shirt the soccer star wore in the second half of the match, when he scored both goals. The auction house said the identity of the shirt was confirmed by sports memorabilia photo-matching firm Resolution Photomatching and confirmed by Sotheby’s chief scientific officer.
Brahm Wachter, head of streetwear and modern collectibles at Sotheby’s, said the shirt was “a tangible reminder of an important moment not only in the history of sport, but in the history of the 20th century”.
The previous sports memorabilia record was $8.8 million paid at an auction in December 2019 for the manifesto that launched the modern Olympic movement. The previous sportswear record was $5.64 million for a Babe Ruth New York Yankees jersey in 2019.
Sale prices include an auction house commission known as the buyer’s premium.