File this one under ‘you couldn’t make this up’ (or could you?). One thing that is always predictable about high-profile draws for the latter stages of cup competitions is that someone, somewhere will claim that the draw was rigged to favour certain teams.
This morning, according to reports in the Spanish and Turkish press, Turkish former referee and current sports broadcaster Ahmet Çakar has claimed that UEFA manipulated the recent draws for the Champions League and Europa League, in order to guarantee that big clubs and clubs from the same country would not meet until the semi final stage.
In a broadcast on Turkish television, the ex-referee demonstrated the system that he believes was used to manipulate the draws. He claims that UEFA secretary Gianni Infantino was secretly manipulating a lever, which would cause certain balls in the draw pot to emit a vibration, which the person drawing the balls (which in recent events have included Patrick Kluivert and Steve McManaman) would sense to draw the ‘correct’ balls.
Previously, UEFA was accused by others of fixing the December drawing after the practice and live drawings both produced the same results, and in 2003 Sir Alex Ferguson was fined £5,000 by UEFA for saying :
“It was a nice draw for the Spanish and Italians – I think they picked it themselves. The three Italian teams have avoided each other and so have the three Spanish teams. How do you think that worked out? I can tell you – UEFA don’t want us in the final, that’s for sure. I don’t know why they have given the final to Old Trafford because they don’t want us to get there.”
UEFA is yet to respond to the latest claims.
Video footage from Turkish television :