Potgate: French cook up dastardly World Cup draw plot

Who was behind the last-minute change of rules that could spare France the group of death?

LAST UPDATED AT 14:31 ON Fri 6 Dec 2013

FANCY that, the French are behind Potgate! The nation that once had the Gallic gall to label Britain ‘Perfidious Albion’ are allegedly responsible for the idea that could condemn England to the Group of slow and very painful death in next year’s World Cup.

Earlier in the week it was reported that some bright spark had suggested it might be a good idea if all nine European World Cup qualifiers go into a draw to decide which country moves into Pot 2 for today’s draw in Costa do Sauipe. That was instead of the initial plan to put France into the pot as the lowest-ranked European team.

Pot 2 contains Chile, Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria and Cameroon, decent footballing countries but nonetheless sides that most European nations wouldn’t mind playing. But with the draw change the European side that is moved from pot 4 to pot 2 will  be faced with a far tougher draw. The nightmare scenario, the one that has seen Roy Hodgson shuffling about the Costa looking downcast, is that the European nation moved from pot 4 then ends up in a World Cup pool containing Brazil, Italy and Mexico.

Now it turns out that the idea for the draw change came from FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke. As the name suggests, Monsieur Valcke is French. But as the Daily Mail explains, the idea still needed to be rubber-stamped by the Confederation presidents and the World Cup organising committee. It was, no doubt to the delight of “the most influential figure sitting on both groups” – none other than Uefa president Michel Platini. Monsieur Platini is also French.

It’s claimed that when confronted with the accusation, Platini exclaimed that he was “not the only Frenchman on Fifa”.  The Mail says that Valcke has indeed admitted it was his idea but says it would be “unfair” to imply he did it for the France, explaining that when the change of format was mooted “not a single voice” argued against the idea.

Not that the change did France any favours at the main dress rehearsal on Thursday. The Mail reports that France were the European country moved from Pot 2 to Pot 4 and ended up in a group containing Brazil, Italy and Australia.

England, on the other hand, drew Spain, Ivory Coast and South Korea. What chance the luck of the Three Lions’ runs out in the real deal tonight? We couldn’t possibly comment… · 

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