May 21 – Former UEFA president Michel Platini is unlikely to re-emerge as a footballing political force following his worldwide ban but that hasn’t stopped him stirring things up when the opportunity comes around.
The Frenchman, whose original eight-year ban was reduced twice, has suddenly come out and admitted the draw for the 1998 World Cup was fixed. Or rather, as he put it, “a little trickery” was used “when we organised he schedule” to increase the chances of France and Brazil meeting in the final.
Platini was co-president of the World Cup organising committee in 1998, and admitted the group allocations for seeded teams were made with an eye on a “dream” final.
Two days before the draw took take place, FIFA announced that holders Brazil would be allocated to Group A, standard practice at the time for the defending champions, while France were in Group C meaning if both seeded teams won their groups they could not meet before the final. Platini said it was all organised so that if France and Brazil finished first in their groups, as expected, they wouldn’t be on the same side of the draw in the Round of 16.
That was how it turned out, with France beating Paraguay, Italy and Croatia before overcoming Brazil 3-0 at the Stade de France with two goals from Zinedine Zidane.
“France-Brazil in the final, it was the dream of everyone,” Platini told the radio station France Bleu Sport. “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?”
Platini’s comments were somewhat misleading, however. At all of the World Cup finals since 1986 – with the exception of 2002 which had joint hosts – if the hosts and the holders won their group, they have been kept apart for the knockout stages.
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