Sun, Oct 07, 2007 - Page 22 News List

`Hand of God' re-match falls foul of postal strike

GOLDEN OLDIES A game featuring 17 or 18 of the Argentina and England players who featured in the 1986 match will likely take place in February


A rematch of the 1986 World Cup quarter-final between England and Argentina scheduled for next week has been postponed because organizers were worried that a strike by postal workers would affect ticket sales.

The game at Villa Park in Birmingham on Oct. 14 was being staged to raise money for various charities and was advertised as a chance for England to avenge the 2-1 defeat in which Diego Maradona scored two of soccer's most famous goals.

Organizers decided to postpone the game, most likely until February, because a 48-hour strike that started on Thursday and another starting on Monday would make delivery of tickets impossible to guarantee. Tickets were being sold online, and then mailed to buyers.

"We even thought about going back to cash turnstiles, going back to the 70s," organizer James Williamson said on Friday.


"That might be fine for a couple of thousand people, but not for such a big crowd. There's health and safety issues," he said.

Williamson said 17 or 18 of the 22 players who started the quarter-final in Mexico City had agreed to play, including Maradona, and all were committed to taking part in the rescheduled match.

Organizers want to keep the match at Villa Park because its location in central England makes it easy for fans to get to from all over the country.

That means it has to take place during one of the Premier League's breaks for international soccer.

Williamson said demand for tickets was strong even though the current England team is playing a crucial European Championship qualifier at Wembley the previous day.

memorable goal

Maradona punched in the original match's first goal -- and then dubbed it the "Hand of God" -- before dribbling half the length of the field and beating half the England players to score what is regularly voted the best goal in soccer history.

Argentina, with the likes of Jorge Burruchaga, Jorge Valdano and Oscar Ruggeri, went on to beat West Germany 3-2 in the final for their second World Cup title.

Maradona had been joined by players including former England captain Bryan Robson, Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle, Peter Reid and Ray Wilkins in confirming their participation.

Gary Lineker, who scored England's lone goal to finish top scorer at the 1986 World Cup with six, was unable to play but had agreed to take the first kick of the match.

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