Argentine captain Diego Maradona admitted today he used his hand to knock the ball away from the goal line in Argentina’s 2-0 World Cup victory over the Soviet Union.
Twelve hours after the Wednesday night game, he told Argentine journalists he reacted on instinct during the first-half scramble.
“I saw the ball coming at me very fast, and I instinctively put my hand in front of it,” he said.
At a postgame news conference, the 29-year-old attacker said he was not sure what happened on the play.
Soviet Coach Valery Lobanovsky called the play crucial and said referee Erik Fredriksson of Sweden should lose his job for missing it.
Maradona said the play happened so fast that it was difficult for the referee to see.
One of the world’s most gifted players with his feet and his head, Maradona has a history of using his hands.
In the 1986 World Cup, he scored with his left hand against England in a 2-1 quarterfinal victory. Afterward, Maradona said it was “the hand of God” that caused the goal, and the phrase became synonymous with the incident.