By Tony Attwood
The one time Uefa president Michel Platini who is now formerly known as the “disgraced former president” as if most administrators of major football organisations are not still a disgrace, has recently admitted the draw for the World Cup in 1998 was fixed. He called it what translates roughly as “a bit of mucking about” but he meant “fixed”, I’m sure.
The idea was that everyone in Fifa knew what they wanted as the showpiece World Cup Final, and so the draw was fixed to give these countries the greatest chance of meeting. And so it turned out.
He didn’t get banned from football for that – after all when Fifa fixes something who is there to investigate? Well, looks like it is Fifa and I am not sure I have too much confidence in them as the final arbiter of what is right. Thank goodness America throws in the FBI when money is involved.
It is interesting that this comes out now after the story blew up about the draw fixing in the Champions League semi-final, in which the draw went up on some clubs’ web sites before it was made – and of course they got it right.
And so it is interesting to think of that situation in the light of Plantini’s comment about the draw in the World Cup, “There was a little trickery. We did not spend six years organising the World Cup to not do some little shenanigans. Do you think other World Cup hosts did not?”
Indeed in some regards draw fixing is sometimes openly admitted, as in the 1990 world cup where the six countries that most people wanted to see were called the top six seeds and were placed in separate groups before the draw began. It certainly happened in the 1966 World Cup in which it was arranged that England would play all its games at Wembley.
There’s even a YouTube to commemorate draw fixing.
As for the Champions League, Roma advertised tickets for their game with Liverpool on their official website 24 hours before the draw was made. And then the live draw results were shown on the official Uefa site before the live stream.
It is what makes these international organisations so endearing I suppose. They are all-powerful in football, answerable to no one except (as I suggested above) the FBI, and yet even when they do something as simple as draw fixing they don’t get it right. “Blundering incompetents” is I think the general term – just like me with digital technology.
Of course match fixing is quite possibly going on at the same time but those who may be engaged in such activity have a great advantage. Consider it like this:
Imagine you wanted to fix a match. You might consider bribing the club officials – but that would be dodgy because a lot of people would know what was going on, and the club officials would have to get the players to agree, and players can be difficult buggers.
That is also why entire teams are not often thought to be bribed. It did happen in 1915 with Liverpool and Manchester United, and almost certainly with Liverpool and Chelsea in 1913, but these days it is rare. (Details of those match fixing events are explored in great depth on the Arseanal History Society Site in our article
So if you can’t bribe the club officials nor the players because there are too many people involved, who would you bribe? The obvious answer is referees. But even here a dodgy decision by a referee would stand out if there was a video assistant on the game, or indeed if referees by and large never made any significant errors. So a scenario in which there are no video assistants and referees are often seen to make errors, is a perfect base line.
Add in the notion that anyone who ever suggests there might be something wrong with refereeing is considered a bad loser or a nerd or a flat earther or just a general nutter, and that dubious refereeing is just so boring, and has been discussed so often before that the media in general won’t touch it with a barge pole, then you have the perfect scenario for match fixing to take place.
Of course the suggestion that it could happen doesn’t mean it does, but maybe that’s not the question. Maybe the question is, why not put in place a few basic changes which will ensure that match fixing doesn’t happen? After all there is a fair amount of money floating about in the game.
Or so I keep hearing.
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