“Hand of God” AR Dochev has died aged 80

Bulgarian Bogdan Dochev did see Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God'... but FIFA rules at the time didn't allow him to make his view known to the referee. The former assistant referee who had been accused of failing to spot Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' did in fact notice the Argentinian wizard's handball, it has been revealed.
Bogdan Dochev, who died in his home country of Bulgaria this week at age 80, gave an interview three years ago in which he confirmed that he had seen Maradona punch the ball beyond England goalkeeper Peter Shilton during the 1986 World Cup quarter-final. However, he claimed that FIFA rulings at the time dictated he should only offer his verdict to Tunisian match referee Ali Bin Nasser if directly asked by the official to do so. Speaking three years ago, Dochev said: “I saw the Argentinian played with hand. During those times, FIFA's rules allowed to the assistant referee to give his opinion only if asked by the referee. The referee admitted the goal even before taking a look at me to check the situation. We never had a communication — Bin Nasser knew only his native language”. He added: “Maradona is a big player, but a very dishonourable man.”
In the pulsating quarter-final won 2-1 by Argentina, Maradona produced two of the most talked about goals in the history of football. After hoodwinking officials with his first handball effort, he dribbled past five England players in a brilliant solo effort. Following the handball, TV images showed Tunisian referee Bin Nasser running slowly backwards towards the centre of the pitch and looking at Dochev. The Bulgarian, however, did not wave his flag while stood absolutely still. “If FIFA had put a referee from Europe in charge of such an important game, the first goal of Maradona would have been disallowed”, Dochev said. But Bin Nasser had a different view and 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”. Dochev, capped two times by Bulgaria as a player, blamed Maradona for ruining his refereeing career and his life. “Diego Maradona ruined my life”, he said. “He is a brilliant footballer but a small man. He is low in height and as a person too”. Dochev, Bulgaria's top referee in the 1970s and 1980s, also officiated at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, as well as dozens of European club competitions matches, including the 1983 UEFA Cup final's first leg between Belgium's Anderlecht and Portugal's Benfica.

Source: Daily Mail