Michel Platini admits ‘skulduggery’ to rig 1998 World Cup draw

We weren’t going to go through the bother of six years organizing the World Cup if we could not pull off a few little tricks said we weren’t going to go through the bother of six years organizing the World Cup if we could not pull off a few little tricks admitted Michel Platini. (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 May 2018

Michel Platini admits ‘skulduggery’ to rig 1998 World Cup draw

  • We organized the schedule so, if we finished first in our group and Brazil first in theirs, the teams could not meet before the final: Platini
  • At the time, the selection process of top seeds for the eight groups had provoked accusations of a “European conspiracy” by then-Brazil coach Mario Zagallo

PARIS: Disgraced Michel Platini has sensationally admitted to a “little skulduggery” in rigging the draw to ensure Brazil and France could not meet until the final of the 1998 World Cup, where he was organizing committee president.
“We organized the schedule so, if we finished first in our group and Brazil first in theirs, the teams could not meet before the final,” France great Platini told Radio Bleu Sport in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday, highlights of which the station tweeted on Friday.
The revelation comes at a time when Platini is banned from football for receiving a “disloyal payment” of two million Swiss francs (1.7 million euros, $2 million) when he was head of UEFA from disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
The draw took place in Marseille on December 4, 1997 and was presided over by FIFA’s then-general secretary: Blatter.
“Look, we were at home, you have to make the most of things, we weren’t going to go through the bother of six years organizing the World Cup if we could not pull off a few little tricks,” said Platini, a former midfield star for Saint Etienne, Juventus and France. “Do you think other hosts didn’t do the same at their World Cups?“
A France-Brazil final “was everyone’s dream,” said Platini.
Brazil were placed in Group A and France in Group C, ensuring they wouldn’t meet until the final, as long as both won their group.
Not everyone was happy with the fairly transparent plan, though.
At the time, the selection process of top seeds for the eight groups had provoked accusations of a “European conspiracy” by then-Brazil coach Mario Zagallo.
Following frantic negotiations behind the scenes, six European countries and two South Americans — Brazil and Argentina — were picked, with Africans Nigeria missing out.
Ahead of the draw, Zagallo had complained that French organizers would “do everything to ensure Brazil are not world champions,” insisting the seeding process was fixed to ensure the Selecao would face two European sides in the group stages: they drew Norway and Scotland, as well as Morocco — a fairly easy draw by anyone’s standards.
But their bitter rivals Argentina drew the only group with just one European team, Croatia, as well as Jamaica and Japan.
France got Denmark, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, finished top and then beat Paraguay, Italy (on penalties) and Croatia on route to the final, playing both their quarter-final and semifinal at the Stade de France national stadium where the title-decider would also be held.
Brazil won their group and beat Chile, Denmark and the Netherlands (on penalties) before losing the final 3-0 to France.
While teams had been allocated to specific groups at previous tournaments, it had typically been to keep apart countries from the same continental federation.
At Italia 1990, when there were just 24 teams in six groups of four, the top seeds were assigned in an way that kept Italy in Rome and had the added bonus for organizers that England, and their notorious fans, were isolated on Sardinia.
England were placed in the “London group” at both the 1966 World Cup and Euro 96, ensuring they would play all their games at Wembley.


Manchester City’s European ban quashed on appeal

Updated 5 min 3 sec ago

Manchester City’s European ban quashed on appeal

  • Initial fine of $34 million was also reduced to $11.3 million on appeal

LAUSANNE: Manchester City will be free to play Champions League football next season after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) lifted a two-season ban from European competitions imposed by UEFA on Monday.
An initial fine of $34 million was also reduced to $11.3 million on appeal.
City were accused of deliberately inflating the value of income from sponsors with links to the Abu Dhabi United Group, also owned by City owner Sheikh Mansour, to avoid falling foul of financial fair play (FFP) regulations between 2012 and 2016.
The case against City was reopened when German magazine Der Spiegel published a series of leaked emails in 2018.
However, CAS found that “most of the alleged breaches reported by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB (UEFA Club Financial Control Body) were either not established or time-barred.”
City welcomed the decision that will have huge ramifications on the club’s finances and potentially the future of manager Pep Guardiola and star players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.
“Whilst Manchester City and its legal advisers are yet to review the full ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the club welcomes the implications of today’s ruling as a validation of the club’s position and the body of evidence that it was able to present,” City said in a statement.
“The club wishes to thank the panel members for their diligence and the due process that they administered.”
Since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover 12 years ago, City’s fortunes have been transformed from perennially living in the shadow of local rivals Manchester United to winning four Premier League titles in the past eight years among 11 major trophies.
On Saturday, they secured qualification for the Champions League for a 10th consecutive season with a 5-0 win at Brighton.
More silverware could come before the end of the season as Guardiola’s side face Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinals on Saturday before restarting their Champions League campaign in August, holding a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid from the first leg of their last 16 tie.
City’s victory in court will raise fresh questions over how effectively UEFA can police FFP.
But European football’s governing body said it remained committed to the system which limits clubs to not losing more than 30 million euros, with exceptions for some costs such as youth development and women’s teams, over a three-year period.
“UEFA notes that the CAS panel found that there was insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the CFCB’s conclusions in this specific case and that many of the alleged breaches were time-barred due to the five-year time period foreseen in the UEFA regulations,” UEFA said in a statement.
“Over the last few years, Financial Fair Play has played a significant role in protecting clubs and helping them become financially sustainable and UEFA and ECA remain committed to its principles.”