The Hand of God: June 21, 1986
We see history in still images. At least that’s the theory of Matthew Butson, vice president of Getty Images’ Archive. So when he was asked to pull some of the most historic images in World Cup history, Butson chose not only the photos that showed the evolution of sports photography, but also the images that spoke to the story of the World Cup and how it became one of the biggest tournaments in the world.
This image, dubbed “The Hand of God,” features arguably the most controversial goals ever in the sport of soccer. Argentina’s Diego Maradona, a controversial figure himself, scored the first goal of a 2-1 victory over England in the 1986 World Cup on a ball that he punched into the net with the outside of his left fist. The goal went unpenalized and later became one of the most debated goals ever. Maradona described the goal as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”
“It was just such a pivotal moment of that World Cup,” Butson said before explaining that the capturing of this image was almost as perfect as the play itself. Since the technology of photography wasn’t as advanced, the photographer was waiting for the play to unfold with his finger waiting to press the button at the right moment. “A split second later and you haven’t got the shot. A split second earlier and it’s not the shot. It was all about timing.”
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