UEFA fixed draws using "cold and hot balls" - Sepp Blatter
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has alleged that “cold and hot balls” have been used to rig draws at UEFA competitions.
Football fans and observers have often questioned the integrity of tournament draws where balls bearing teams’ names are picked out of a compartment to form groups and knockout stage ties. This season’s Champions League winners Real Madrid, and 2014 World Cup finalists Argentina are two notable teams that have been perceived to have benefited from fortunate draws pitting them against uncomplicated opposition.
“If you put the balls in the refrigerator before, a simple comparison between one and the other by touching them determines the cold and hot balls,” Blatter said in an interview with Argentine daily La Nacion.
Unsurprisingly, Blatter absolved himself of all blame by clarifying that any temperature-signaled draw-rigging only occurred in UEFA tournaments, rather than in any of the FIFA competitions overseen by the Swiss national in his 18-year tenure at the helm of world football’s governing body.
“It did not happen in FIFA, but I witnessed draws at a European level in which it happened – but never in FIFA.”
Blatter’s allegation also serves as a not-too-subtle dig at his successor as FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, formerly UEFA’s General Secretary – and a man whose appointment Blatter previously warned would bring in “the end of Europe”.
The octagenarian declined to explain why he failed to act upon witnessing such gross malpractice, despite FIFA’s status as the parent organization that oversees UEFA and other continental football confederations.
Blatter is currently fighting an appeal against a six-year ban handed to him by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for making an illegal payment to former UEFA president Michel Platini.