The football governing body, FIFA has been forced to address allegations that Friday’s World Cup draw will be rigged. Former president Sepp Blatter claimed that the draw will be rigged with hot and cold balls. He further claimed that had witnessed such a practice being implemented. On Wednesday, FIFA organised a behind-the-scenes tour of the auditorium that will stage the finals draw for 2018 Russia. It featured an explanation of how the event will unfold, including the use of red balls to denote seeded teams.
In a demonstration, Russia was drawn with Peru, who many argue is the least difficult opponent in their pot. FIFA director of competitions, Chris Unger, was questioned on rumours of heated balls at previous draws. Unger said, “There’s no truth to that. They’re all the same; they don’t feel any different, they don’t look any different, with the exception of the red balls, which are there for a purpose. It’s entirely random and by chance how the groups get formed at the end.”
Disgraced former FIFA president Blatter last year denied that Argentina had been handed an easy draw at the last World Cup after they were pitted against Nigeria, Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina. “The draw was clean until the last detail. I never touched the balls, which was something that others had to do. Of course, it can be signalled, by heating or cooling them. It’s technically possible. It did not happen in FIFA, but I witnessed draws at a European level in which it happened – but never in FIFA.”
He admitted that such an incident could have happened but never on his watch. Blatter said that if the balls were placed in a refrigerator before, a simple comparison between one and the other by touching them determines the cold and hot balls. Ahead of the 2018 Russia draw, the UEFA rejected Blatter’s claims and labelled them as “completely absurd”.