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The 'Hand of God' soccer ball punched by Diego Maradona is up for auction

The match ball used in the 1986 FIFA World Cup football match between Argentina and England is pictured ahead of its auction, at Wembley Stadium in London on Nov. 1.
The match ball used in the 1986 FIFA World Cup Quarter-Final football match between Argentina and England, played at the Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, is pictured during a photocall ahead of its auction, at Wembley Stadium in London on November 1, 2022. - The ball that Diego Maradona used to score his infamous "Hand of God" World Cup goal for Argentina against England in 1986 will go under the hammer on November 16, and could fetch up to £3 million. The 1986 quarter-final between Argentina and England saw a heated build-up because of political tensions following the Falklands war and came to be defined by two contrasting goals scored by the late Maradona. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)

What is the worth of the soccer ball used in one of the most controversial World Cup moments of all time?

We'll soon know, as the ball punched by Argentine legend Diego Maradona in what is known as the "Hand of God" goal goes to auction on Wednesday.

The lot is part of a one-day special auction of World Cup items and memorabilia at Graham Budd Auctions in the U.K. The ball may sellfor as much as $3.6 million.

In May, the jersey worn by Maradona that day fetched $9.3 million, the highest price ever paid for a piece of sports memorabilia at auction.

The ball was used for the duration of a quarterfinal match between Argentina and England at the 1986 World Cup at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

Six minutes into the second half, Maradona jumped into the air toward the ball, alongside England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. The ball soared into the net, and Maradona celebrated with his teammates.

It was clear to the England players — and to viewers of the replay later — that Maradona had struck the ball with his fist. After the match, Maradona would tell reporters that he had scored "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God."

The ball is being sold on behalf of the match's referee, Ali Bin Nasser of Tunisia, who is part of the controversy as well.

"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," former England player John Barnes told Goal in July.

Bin Nasser has maintained that the linesman, Bogdan Dochev of Bulgaria, had the better view and never signaled a handball.

Four minutes after that infamous goal, Maradona scored one of the great goals in World Cup history, known as "the goal of the century." The game would end 2-1, after England's Gary Lineker scored in the 81st minute.

Argentina would go on to win the World Cup, beating West Germany in the final 3-2.

Maradona died at age 60 of heart failure and pulmonary edema in 2020.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.