Uefa rigged tournament draw, alleges Blatter

BUENOS AIRES • Sepp Blatter, the disgraced former Fifa president, has claimed he witnessed the fixing of a draw for a European football competition.

The 80-year-old, in an interview with Argentinian newspaper La Nacion on Monday, did not specify which competition he believed was rigged, but said he had seen a practice whereby the balls containing team names were cooled to make their identification possible when being picked out.

The Swiss said only one team had benefited and he distanced himself and Fifa from any involvement, instead suggesting that it had happened not on the world football governing body's patch, but under European governing body Uefa's jurisdiction.

Asked specifically by La Nacion about the method of the draw for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which was favourable for Argentina, Blatter said: "The draw was clean down to the last detail. I never touched the balls (the plastic balls bearing the teams' names), something that others did.

"Of course it's possible that they can be signalled, by heating or cooling them. It doesn't happen in Fifa, but I've witnessed draws at European level where it has happened, but never in Fifa.

"Of course it can be done, but it never happened under my watch (during his 18 years as president of Fifa), never."

Blatter explained how a "blind" draw could be fixed, saying: "Balls are put in the freezer before the draw, at the slightest touch you can tell if the balls are hot or cold.

"By touching them you know exactly what you have."

The Swiss is currently serving a six-year ban from all football-related activity over a payment of two million Swiss francs (S$2.81 million) to Michel Platini, the former head of European football governing body Uefa. He is appealing against the sanctions through the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On Monday, he defended himself and Fifa against the corruption accusations.

"Blatter isn't corrupt. They tried to find something on me, but they won't find any (evidence) I violated any Swiss law," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Uefa rigged tournament draw, alleges Blatter'. Print Edition | Subscribe