Maradona meets referee who allowed ‘Hand of God’ goal

Tunis, Aug 18 (IANS) Argentina football legend Diego Maradona kissed and hugged referee Ali Bennaceur who allowed his handball goal in the 1986 World Cup and presented him with a signed Argentine jersey when the two met in Tunisia this week.

Argentina defeated England 2-1 in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico to go on and eventually win the championship.

Maradona scored twice in the match with the first strike being a very controversial one. The ball came off a defender when Maradona, now 54, went up and hit it in with his hand, getting past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton.

Bennaceur, now 71, didn’t see it, so ruled it as a goal amid protests from the English players.

When asked about the goal after the match, Maradona cheekily said the goal was scored by the “Hand of God.”

That started a controversial debate about the morality of Maradona that continues to this day with some branding the legend a cheat. AFter the match, Maradona and Bennaceur became household names in Argentina.

“This weekend I visited Tunisia and I had an emotional reunion with Ali Bennaceur, the referee of the England match in Mexico, 1986,” Maradona posted a picture and said on his Facebook page on Monday.

“I gave him an Argentina shirt and he gave me the picture of that game that hangs in his home. My dedication: “For Ali, my eternal friend,” Maradona said.

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