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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Sepp Blatter claims European draws were rigged by manipulating balls

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter claims that European football draws have been fixed in the past.

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that he has witnessed draws for European football competitions that were rigged using the "hot and cold balls" method.

Blatter claims no draw for any FIFA event has ever been fixed in his 18 years as the head of the world's governing body, but the same cannot be said about European competitions.

While he did admit he had the power to affect such draw fixes, Blatter insisted it was never carried out at FIFA, even though he knew of the method which was used in such cases.

"There was only one person who had that power in Europe," Blatter told La Nacion. "[Former UEFA president from 1973-83] Artemio Franchi used to do that for the club tournament draws.

"I did not do that for the World Cup in 1978. But with my magic, I could do anything. Once again, I am joking. The draw was honest down to the last detail.

"I never touched the balls, something that other people did. Of course, you can rig them by making them hot or cold."

When pressed on how the draws were rigged to favour certain clubs or countries, the Swiss explained the exact method in which the draw balls come into play.

"Of course it is technically possible," Blatter said. "This did not happen in FIFA but I have been witness to draws at the level of Europe, at which it happened.

"But never in FIFA. Of course it can be done but in my case it never happened, never.

"Before the draw you put the balls in the freezer. Then when you touch them you can determine which ones are cold or hot. By touching them you know what you have."

Blatter, 80, who along with former UEFA president Michel Platini is serving a six-year ban -- reduced from eight years after a successful appeal -- from all football-related matters was also quick to defend himself.

He insisted that FIFA and himself have never done anything wrong, despite the organisation being investigated for corruption where a slew of top football officials have been arrested in recent years.

"[I am] not corrupt. They have tried to find something on me but no one has found that I have violated any Swiss law," he said. "Swiss laws and any criminal law."

Blatter was adamant that not only will his reputation remain unscathed, he has never felt remorseful for the corrupt accusations that have come his way.

He added: "They aren't going to find anything on me. My conscience is clear, yes.

"FIFA are not corrupt, any organisation cannot be corrupt. Only men are. FIFA are an organisation with 1,600 people, they can't all be corrupt."

Blatter also denied that 1986 World Cup winner Diego Maradona was ever offered money to work with the sport's governing body.

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