The FIFA World Cup has gifted us some weird and wonderful draws during the competition’s history. Ahead of today’s event, we take a look at the best and worst.
It is a familiar story: up to an hour of singing, dancing and anything but the actual draw, followed by half an hour of 32 plastic balls being unscrewed in an overly elaborate manner.
For better or for worse, here are the top five most memorable draws:
The first draw on our list is arguably the most infamous. This was, hilariously, newly-elected FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s first draw and just about everything possible went wrong.
First, the six South American teams were not distributed evenly across the six groups, causing a redraw. Then some of the metal cages holding the balls failed to open.
Finally, some of the balls inside the cages (which were still stubbornly refusing to open) split apart, revealing their contents to the watching world. Carnage.
Italia ’90 was a memorable tournament in England for so many reasons, but it is obviously best remembered for being the first year celebrities were involved in the draw.
Actress and singer Sophia Loren assisted proceedings, while opera singer Luciano Pavarotti performed live. The latter, of course, is synonymous with Italia 90 – when football fans of a certain age hear Nessun Dorma they get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
An unlikely three musketeers starred in the draw for USA 94: German world cup winning player and coach Franz Beckenbauer, heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and comedian Robin Williams.
Williams treated the ceremony as a stand-up set from start to finish, successfully smashing FIFA’s sense of importance.
It is worth a watch simply to see Sepp Blatter visibly become more and more annoyed at Williams’ antics.
Nothing particularly embarrassing here, but the 2002 world cup draw in Yokohama is worth a mention only because it almost descended into self-parody.
After each of the 32 teams was drawn, the following would take place without fail:
- A wide shot of the crowd before panning back to the stage
- A fan nervously/excitedly watching
- A girl putting a flag on the big display board
Say what you like about recent draws, but at least they have shown more variety than this one.
Controversy dominated four years ago when Brazilian actress, model and television host Fernanda Lima was chosen to assist with the ceremony. Broadcasters in conservative countries such as Iran felt that Lima’s outfit did not fit their broadcasting guidelines.
FIFA was also criticised for rumours that Lima and co-host Rodrigo Hilbert were asked to fill in for two black presenters at the last minute.
Most memorable, however, was mascot Fuleco the Armadillo leading legendary Argentine defender Javier Zanetti in a strange dance.
Who knows what Russia has in store this afternoon.