The assistant referee who failed to spot Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal has passed away. Bulgarian former football official Bogdan Dochev died on Friday at the age of 80.
Diego Maradona’s two goals gave Argentina a 2-1 win over England in the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter final. The first of the two was a clear hand ball. Maradona said in the post match press conference that the goal was scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God,” thus giving the goal its name.
The referee in that match, Ali Bin Nasser later claimed he was waiting for Dochev to give him an indication of whether he had seen anything.
Dochev said later, “Diego Maradona ruined my life. He is a brilliant footballer but a small man.
“He is low in height and as a person.”
Discussing the incident with the Bulgarian media a few years ago, he added: “Although I felt immediately there was something irregular, back in that time FIFA didn’t allow the assistants to discuss the decisions with the referee.
“If FIFA had put a referee from Europe in charge of such an important game, the first goal of Maradona would have been disallowed.”
TV grabs from the match later sho Bin Nasser looking towards Dochev after the ball went past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. The referee later said, “I was waiting for Dochev to give me a hint of what exactly happened but he didn’t signal for a handball.
“The instructions Fifa gave us before the game were clear – if a colleague was in a better position than mine, I should respect his view.”
Just four minutes later, Maradona would go on to score what has come to be known as the ‘Goal of the Century’ when he dribbled past five England defenders in a run from his own half of the field to the oppostion box before putting it past Shilton.
Despite that lapse, Dochev was Bulgaria’s top referee in the 1970s and 1980s and also officiated at the 1982 World Cup. He took charge of the first leg of the 1983 Uefa Cup final between Anderlecht and Benfica.