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Famous Handballs

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And, of course, no list about cheating in football would be complete without a section on handballs:

The Hand of God – Argentina v. England, 1986 World Cup Quarterfinals, June 22, 1986.

Circumstances: Early in the second half, with the score deadlocked at 0-0, Diego Maradona gave the ball away to England’s Steve Hodge. Hodge muffed his clearance and the ball went back towards the English goal. England’s keeper, Peter Shilton, came out and tried to punch it away, but Maradona, who had continued his run into the penalty area, punched the ball over Shilton and into the net. The officials mistakenly gave Maradona the goal, and Maradona did his best to sell it, telling his teammates to start celebrating with him lest the goal would be disallowed.

Impact: Maradona, who later scored a brilliant goal in which he ran through the English defense like a warm knife cutting through butter, denied wrongdoing. He impishly remarked that the goal was the “Hand of God” and the “Head of Maradona.” Maradona eventually admitted his crime, but it didn’t matter to the English press, who had already demonized him and condemned him as a cheat. He’s still hated, even after all these years, and if he needed any reminding, he got it when he visited England shortly after being named manager of Argentina’s National Team.

Other Hand Balls:

1. Leo Messi clearly handed in a goal against Espanyol during the end of the 2006-2007 season that kept Barcelona alive in the title race (they eventually lost the title to Real Madrid that season). Clearly, those “Next Maradona” comparisons were well-deserved.

2. Paul Scholes went a step further in the closing moments of Manchester United’s 2-1 loss in the 2008 Super Cup when he volley-ball spiked the ball into the net. John O’Shea even tried to sell it by celebrating the goal with Scholes. The ref was not amused and showed Scholes a red card.

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Victor Li is a writer who does live blogging and features for Soccerlens. He has a law degree, but, unfortunately, he spent more time in law school studying David Beckham's contract situation at Manchester United than he did learning about actual contracts. He roots for Manchester United and, because he's an eternal optimist, the U.S. National Team.