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Euro-draw and history of the rigged draws


Karl Heinz Rummenigge complained yesterday regarding the lack of seeded teams for the round of last 16 draw which would have kept Juventus and Bayern Munich apart. One can draw arguments for and against his thinking. It’s true that due to that fixture we have no Juve in today’s draw and we have teams of a lower profile in the draw particularly the likes of Benfica (a massive side 50 years ago) or Wolfsburg. On the other hand we were rewarded with a pulsating two legged tie between both great sides which saw two 2-2 draws and an exciting extra time which saw Bayern finally win out.

Karl Heinz Ruminegge
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Karl Heinz RumineggeArchive

The other side of a random draw is the format favoured by tennis which maps the paths of the competitors all the way through to the final on a seeded basis. This method ensures that the highest seeded players avoid each other until the final rounds. The seeded method as it’s called with the inventor being one Raimundo Saporta, who initiated this format in the formative years of European Cup basketball. As there were in reality four stronger teams (invariably one from Russia, Italy, Yugoslavia and Real Madrid) he was anxious to keep these sides apart in the early stages of the competition.

Then there is the often cited case of the 'cold balls' which was apparently used before Saporta’s initiative. The idea is that the better teams' balls were placed in a freezer ahead of the draw and the person making it would avoid extracting two cold balls together, thus ensuring that none of the competition's stronger teams faced each other. This eventually evolved into the seeded teams system that Rummenigge would now like to see introduced at the last 16 stage. Today the draw for the quarter finals of both the Champions and Europa League was held, with Real's good luck and Barça and Atleti's less favourable fortunes leading to renewed talk, in more than one quarter, of 'cold balls'; a sleight of hand that still preys on many minds.