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Former UEFA president Michel Platini said his home country did what it could to make sure that France and Brazil weren’t going to meet until the World Cup Final in 1998.
The hosts France beat Brazil in that final for the country’s first World Cup trophy. According to Platini, “a little trickery” was involved in the World Cup draw to prevent France and Brazil — two of the best teams in the world at that time — from meeting each other in the tournament before the final. Brazil entered the tournament as the defending World Cup champions and beat Germany to reclaim the title in 2002.
“When we organized the calendar, we did a little trickery,” Platini said to France Bleu Sport, and thanks to the Daily Mail for the translation. “If we finished first in the group and Brazil finished first, we could not meet before the final.”
Platini went on to say that France’s shenanigans weren’t an outlier in the world of international soccer. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone given the corruption charges that have enveloped members of the group.
“We did not get bored for six years to organize the World Cup to not do some little shenanigans,” Platini said in the interview. “You think that the others did not do it for their World Cup? France-Brazil in the final, it was the dream of everyone.”
Platini, a former French soccer player himself, was one of the organizers of the France World Cup. He became the president of UEFA in 2006 and was seen as a potential successor to Sepp Blatter as FIFA’s president.
Corruption charges made sure that didn’t happen. Platini was banned from FIFA for eight years for what officials said was a lack of ethical behavior.
Attempting to fix a World Cup draw would certainly fall into the category of unethical behavior. While it was no guarantee France and Brazil would meet in the final — as Platini noted, the ruse could have been blown up if one of the teams finished second in its group — there’s a reason it’s a World Cup “draw.” It’s supposed to be as random as possible within the publicly known rules of the selection process.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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