On the 28th anniversary of ‘Hand of God’ — one of the most controversial goals of all time — football legend Diego Maradona has courted yet another controversy. This time, however, it is because of the ‘Finger of God’.
Maradona has responded to being called a “bad luck charm” by Argentina’s football association president by showing him the middle finger on live TV.
He was reacting to reports that Julio Grondona called him a jinx after Argentina's 1-0 victory over Iran on Saturday.
Maradona watched the game at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte but left shortly before Lionel Messi scored the winner in stoppage time.
Argentine media reported Grondona as saying that "the bad luck charm left and we won”.
Maradona, who has a spiky relationship with Grondona, later gave analysis to Venezuelan broadcaster Telesur.
He said, “I want to tell Grondona, who said that, that what I have, I earned working. What he has was bought by FIFA.”
"Jinx this," Maradona said, looking at the camera of Telesur, for whom he works as a commentator at the World Cup. "Poor, stupid man. This is Messi's merit, Not because I left.”
Telesur is a left-leaning Caracas-based Latin American network set up by the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez as an intended counterpoint to what he saw as capitalist-dominated global media.
Maradona was an admirer and friend of Chavez's, as well as Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro.
The 82-year-old Grondona, who has been head of the Argentina FA since 1979, was in charge when Maradona almost single-handedly steered Argentina to World Cup victory in Mexico in 1986.
Apart from the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal, Maradona also scored one of the best goals ever in the same match.
June 22, 1986: This was the day of the 'Hand of God', when Maradona used his left fist to knock a ball past England's Shilton. (AP Photo)
Emotions at the World Cup have rarely been so conflicted as they were on June 22, 1986, in Azteca Stadium. In their first match since the Falklands War, Argentina and England met in a quarter-final. For his ‘Hand of God’ goal, Maradona used his left fist to knock in a ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
The referee did not spot the offence.
Later in the game, Maradona picked up the ball around the halfway line, toyed with the English players and through a myriad of dribbles, feints and sheer body strength scored what many consider the greatest individual goal of all time.
Despite a late fightback from England, Argentina held on to win 2-1 to make the semi-finals and went on to win the tournament.