Liverpool legend Ian Rush – an ambassador for this year’s Cardiff final – was responsible for Friday’s Champions League draw in Nyon, Switzerland (Picture: Getty Images)
A Spanish newspaper has published a video in which it suggests one of the balls used in the Champions League draw was heated.
AS offers no proof for its claim nor motive on UEFA’s part but readers in the comments section believe the governing body wanted to avoid another all-Spanish final.
Friday’s draw, carried out by Liverpool legend Ian Rush, who is working as an ambassador for this year’s Cardiff final, saw the two Spanish sides Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid drawn against each other in the semis.
‘The first ball that came out in the draw of the Champions League semi-finals was that of Real Madrid,’ AS explains.
‘Ian Rush shook all the balls in the drum. So far, so normal.
Simeone and Zidane’s sides will be facing each other on Tuesday 2 May for the first-leg of their Champions League semi-final (Picture: Getty Images)
‘With the next ball came the mystery as the Welshman went directly to Atleti without barely moving the other balls.’
The hot ball conspiracy has also been doing the rounds on YouTube:
The result of the draw means there can be no repeat of the 2014 and 2016 finals when the two Spanish sides met, with either Juventus or Monaco providing the other finalist this year.
It is not the first time the governing body has been accused of cooking balls.
Last year, disgraced former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter told Argentinian newspaper La Nacion that he had ‘personally witnessed’ European draws being fixed.
‘It didn’t exist at FIFA, but I was a witness at draws, at a European level, where that happened,’ he explained.
World Cup 2018 – key info
- Tournament kicks off on Thursday 14 June
- The final is on Sunday 15 July
- There are 12 venues, with the final being hosted at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow
- 32 teams will take part, with hosts Russia among them
- The group stage draw will be made on 1 December
- The mascot will be Zabivaka – a wolf
Accusations reared again this season, after the quarter-final draw saw Real Madrid given a tough tie against Bayern Munich.
But UEFA’s head of competitions Giorgio Marchetti described the claims as a ‘joke’.
‘How can the balls be hot or cold?’ Marchetti asked.
‘It’s impossible. With the category of player that we invite to the draw, I would never ask someone to do something that was not honest when picking the balls. It’s a joke.’