No Piece of Sports Memorabilia Has Sold for More Than This

Diego Maradona's 1986 World Cup shirt sets auction record
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 6, 2022 1:33 PM CDT
Updated May 4, 2022 11:46 AM CDT

Update: It was expected to fetch big bucks, and it outpaced even those expectations. The shirt worn by Diego Maradona when he scored the controversial "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup has sold for $9.3 million, the highest price ever paid at auction for a piece of sports memorabilia. Auctioneer Sotheby’s, which had predicted the jersey could go for upwards of $5.2 million, did not identify the buyer, reports the AP. The previous record for sports memorabilia was $8.8 million paid in 2019 for the manifesto that launched the modern Olympic movement. The previous record for a piece of sportswear was $5.64 million for a Babe Ruth New York Yankees jersey in 2019. Our original story from April 6 follows:

It was the best of moments—or the worst of moments—in soccer history, and now sports fans with deep pockets can own a piece of it. The shirt worn by Diego Maradona when he scored the controversial "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup is for sale for the first time. Auctioneer Sotheby’s said Wednesday that the jersey could fetch more than $5.2 million in an online auction that opens April 20. Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles, says the shirt is "on a small list of the most important sports memorabilia items in the world," per the AP. "I'll never get to handle anything this good again," Wachter says.

Maradona scored two goals during the quarter-final game in Mexico City on June 22, 1986, just four years after Britain and Argentina had fought a war over the Falkland Islands. The Argentine great's first goal was ruled a header, but the ball had bounced off Maradona’s fist, out of sight of the referee. Maradona said afterward that it had been scored "a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God." Maradona’s second goal saw him dribble the ball past almost the entire English team before beating goalkeeper Peter Shilton. In 2002, it was voted “goal of the century” in a FIFA poll. Argentina won the match 2-1 and went on to win the World Cup.

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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 the game Maradona swapped shirts with England midfielder Steve Hodge, who never sold it, until now. For the past 20 years, it has been on loan to England’s National Football Museum. The blue shirt with stripes of lighter blue was a one-off, hastily assembled because the tops Argentina's team planned to wear were judged too heavy for the Mexico City heat. According to Wachter, Hodge had decided "that the time is just right" to sell. The shirt could beat the record for a piece of sportswear, currently held by a Babe Ruth New York Yankees jersey that sold for $5.64 million in 2019.

(Read more Diego Maradona stories.)

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