Another bizarre situation makes it to number 3 on PETE SPENCER’S list of memorable World Cup moments…
WORLD CUP FINALS DRAW 1982
FIFA had announced an expanded format for the tournament in Spain, with 24 nations qualifying. They introduced some razzmattaz with a revamped draw. Rather than the boring ‘names in a hat’ format, FIFA designed cages containing little footballs, each containing a qualifier. The cages would automatically spew a football which was then collected by little Spanish boys who then took it to the suits at the top table.
Unfortunately, things rapidly descended into farce. Firstly, the balls wouldn’t drop from the cages at the right moment, then the officials couldn’t unscrew them to reveal the name inside and at one point a cage jammed, snapping a ball in half, leaving the name now in full view.
But it was when Scotland was drawn out things turned a distinct shade of brown. Initially, Scotland went into Argentina’s group. But unbelievably Blatter ordered a re-draw and Scotland was returned to the cage. Blatter then explained a mistake had occurred when Belgium was drawn into Italy’s group, so the Belgians now moved to join Argentina. Ironic, given the Belgians had complained about England’s seeding, but FIFA couldn’t allow Argentina and England in the same group with the Falklands War going on. To their horror, Scotland was then put with Brazil.
There was more. Peru and Chile were supposed to be removed from the initial draw to ensure they avoided Argentina and Brazil, but nobody told the bloke setting up the equipment. FIFA embarrassed themselves further when it emerged the little Spanish boys were actually from a Madrid orphanage, and one of the suits was heard to rebuke a child “get it sorted, boy!”, in full range of the microphones.