On the 22nd of June in 1986, three people’s lives changed forever. Diego Maradona scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over England in the quarter-final of the World Cup on this day, and the watching world was also convinced that the great player had a unique gift which was touched by God and the devil.
But the two other men whose fate changed were the referee, Ali Bin Nasser, and Bogdan Dotchev, an assistant referee.
Even if they had friendly relations going into that game, that was the last time both spoke with each other. The 51st minute of that match, when Maradona gave Argentina the lead with the infamous “Hand of God” goal, was the last time they ever saw eye to eye.
The feud began with Bin Nasser saying that Fifa had instructed them to respect the view of a colleague if they were in a good position. Dotchev countered saying Fifa didn’t allow assistants to discuss decisions, and if a European referee were officiating that game, they would have disallowed the goal.
Off the field, their lives could not have been more different. The Bulgarian referee worked in finance while the Tunisian was an engineer. Dotchev even played football for the first division in Bulgaria. After his playing days were over, he turned to refereeing. For Bin Nasser, the 1986 World Cup was the only time he officiated in a World Cup.
What are Maradona’s views on the two officials? He calls them his amigos in a few interviews. Thirty years have passed since that goal, but this feud hasn’t ended. Dotchev insists Bin Nasser wasn’t prepared to officiate such a game, and Bin Nasser insists Dotchev should have raised the flag. Time might heal wounds, but no one told Nasser or Dotchev that. Another great documentary.