Former UEFA president Michel Platini has revealed that ‘little tricks’ were in play for the draw of the 1998 World Cup to try to ensure that France didn’t meet Brazil until the final.
Platini, 62, said that the draw for the tournament was made in such a way that the two nations couldn’t possibly meet until the final, so long as they won all their group games.
The tournament was hosted and won by the French, who defeated Brazil 3-0 in the final at the Stade de France to seal their first World Cup win.
‘When we organised the calendar, we did a little trickery,’ Platini told France Bleu Sport. ‘If we finished first in the group and Brazil finished first, we could not meet before the final.’
Heading into the tournament, Brazil were ranked No 1 in the FIFA rankings, with France second. The host nation were drawn into group C, while Brazil were pulled out of the hat in group A meaning they would appear on opposite sides of the knock-out draw providing they both finished top of their respective groups. Which they did.
Brazil won two of their three matches – with a final game defeat by Norway dampening the start of their tournament – while France stormed their way through a group consisting of Denmark, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, conceding only one goal.
Platini, who was then co-president of the French Organising Committee of the World (CFO), spoke openly in the interview about how it was ‘the dream of everyone’ that the two global powerhouses would meet in Saint-Denis.
He continued: ‘We did not get bored for six years to organise the World Cup to not do some little shenanigans.
‘You think that the other hosts did not do it for their World Cups? France-Brazil in the final, it was the dream of everyone.’
Platini and former Fifa counterpart Sepp Blatter were found guilty in 2015 of ethics breaches over a 2m Swiss Franc (£1.3m) “disloyal payment”.
Platini was given an eight-year ban from all football-related activities – later reduced to four on appeal.
According to Sky Sports, he said: ‘I want justice. I haven’t done anything wrong. I want my integrity to be acknowledged.’
The disgraced former UEFA boss went on to describe himself as a ‘victim’.
He added: ‘I consider myself to be a victim, not only of an injustice, but also a political conspiracy by FIFA to stop me becoming president of this institution.
‘I am fighting first of all for my honour and against injustice. I want my innocence to be recognised, that’s my absolute priority.’