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Duarte: Dunga's return is complicated

Brazil
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ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Was the 1998 World Cup in France fixed? Michel Platini's comments explained

France coach Didier Deschamps explains why Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette didn't make his World Cup squad.

Michel Platini has said France used "trickery" to influence the 1998 World Cup group stage draw. We take a look at the background.

So what happened?

Platini said France wanted to ensure the hosts and reigning champions Brazil could not meet until the final, therefore ensuring "everyone's dream" by meeting in the final.

How did they do this?

As with most tournament draws, the knockout rounds fall into two halves -- therefore four group winners cannot meet any of the winners of the other four groups until the final.

In 1998, the winners of Group A, D, E and H slotted into one half of the draw. B, C, F and G were in the other.

It was predetermined that France would take position C1 as hosts, and Brazil position A1 as the holders, thus they were in different halves of the draw and could not meet before the final -- provided that both teams won their respective groups, which was by no means certain.

Who decided this?

Shortly before the World Cup finals draw takes place, the FIFA Organising Committee meets to finalise the draw process. This is not a decision which can be taken solely by the host nation, but Platini and then-French Football Federation president, and fellow Organising Committee co-president, Fernand Sastre would have been able to apply pressure to request this kind of seeding. 

The FIFA Organising Committee was chaired by Lennart Johansson of Sweden and also featured then-FIFA president Joao Havelange, of Brazil.

So did they fix the draw itself?

There is no suggestion the draw itself was rigged in any way. France were drawn with Denmark, South Africa and Saudi Arabia. Brazil were grouped with Norway, Scotland and Morocco. Both still had to top their own group, and come through the knockout rounds to actually reach the final.

France beat Paraguay, Italy and Croatia to get to the final, while Brazil got past Chile, Denmark and Netherlands.

Did they do anything wrong?

It could be argued that France created a situation whereby they would not have to face their main rivals for the World Cup title by being allocated to different halves of the draw, thus increasing their chances of success. But they would not be the only host nation to enjoy this privilege. In fact, you could call it one of the perks of being a host nation. 

What happened in other tournaments?

There have been regular examples of nations being pre-allocated groups for a variety of reasons. At USA '94, seeded nations had influence about where they played their group games, while in 1990 England were placed in the group that played its games in Sardinia due to the country's hooliganism problems.

Up to and including the 2006 World Cup, the holders would qualify automatically for the finals to defend their titles. And in the World Cup draw they, along with the hosts, would automatically be seeded.

In 2002, co-hosts Japan and South Korea were predrawn into positions D1 and H1, respectively, while France as holders were put into A1. This meant that if both won their groups, Japan could not meet France until the final. But Les Blues finished at the bottom of their group.

In 2006, hosts Germany were placed into A1 before the draw and Brazil into F1. Again the hosts and holders could not meet before the final, and while both topped their groups neither made it all the way.

What was the plan for this summer's World Cup?

Since 2010, with holders having to qualify, only the hosts have been pre-placed into a group. So in 2010 it was South Africa, then Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018. On each occasion they were predrawn into position A1. 

Coincidentally, in the three random draws since, the hosts and the holders have been placed in different halves of the draw on all three occasions. 

Dale Johnson has been an editor and journalist at ESPN for 18 years. You can follow him on Twitter @dalejohnsonESPN.

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