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10 Worst Calls in Sports History


7
Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God'
Argentinian forward Diego Maradona (R) readies to cross the ball under pressure from English defender Gary Stevens during the World Cup quarterfinal. This 1986 match is well-remembered for Maradona's 'hand of God' comment. STAFF/AFP/Getty Images
Argentinian forward Diego Maradona (R) readies to cross the ball under pressure from English defender Gary Stevens during the World Cup quarterfinal. This 1986 match is well-remembered for Maradona's 'hand of God' comment. STAFF/AFP/Getty Images

In the 1986 World Cup semifinal between Argentina and England, England was favored, but the eyes of the world were on Argentina's flashy midfielder Diego Maradona, widely considered the best footballer — "soccer player" in the U.S. — to ever play the game.

If the contest on the field wasn't intense enough, the semifinal match reopened fresh wounds from the controversial Falklands War of 1982. During that short-lived conflagration, an overpowering British army repelled Argentinean troops from a disputed island chain, costing hundreds of lives on both sides [source: BBC].

Minutes into the second half, with the score tied at 0-0, an English defender misplayed a ball, volleying it high toward his own goalkeeper. Maradona, in a streak of speed leapt skyward to head the ball over the 6-foot-1 goalie Peter Shilton, scoring Argentina's first goal — technically it was a ¡gooooooallllll! — sending Azteca Stadium into pandemonium.

On the field, however, Shilton and the rest of the English team were grabbing their arms, signaling that the crafty Maradona had punched the ball into the net with his fist, not his mop-topped head. The officials stuck with their original call, even as viewers at home watched the replay where Maradona clearly volleyball-ed his way to a goal.

After the game, a smirking Maradona — who also scored Argentina's second goal to win 2-1 — told the press that his first goal was scored "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the Hand of God" [source: Barragan].