Why Maradona's 'Hand of God' goal is priceless -- and unforgettable

Football has “The Catch,” baseball has “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” and basketball has “The Block.”

For soccer, it is Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” – a sporting moment captured in time, the mere mention of which can conjure up strong emotions among supporters.

Such is its legacy, that some 36 years after bouncing into the back of the net, the soccer ball involved is set to be sold at auction on Nov. 16, 2022, at an expected price of up to US$3.3 million.

So why does this goal, which should not even have been a goal, carry so much significance? As an economist who studies sport, I’ve long believed that you have to grasp the cultural significance to understand the financial dimension of sports. This goal was one of soccer’s most iconic events for a number of reasons.

1. It’s about the controversy

The goal in question was scored by Argentinian great Maradona against England in the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup. It was the second half, no goals had been scored, and Argentina’s team was passing the ball around the edge of the England penalty box.

England midfielder Steve Hodge tried to clear the ball but only succeeded in kicking high above the goalkeeper. Normally one would expect the goalkeeper to catch it, especially against the 5-foot-5-inch Maradona. But somehow the ball ended up in the back of the net.