Ex-Turkish ref claims UCL draw rigged
A former Turkish referee has accused UEFA of fixing the Champions League and Europa League quarter-final draws in a bid to keep Europe's biggest clubs apart.
Ahmet Cakar, who officiated in the Champions League and at the 1996 European Championship, has built a reputation as one of Turkey's most controversial football pundits since he retired from refereeing.
And he lived up to that billing when making the remarkable claim on Turkish station Beyaz TV that a combination of levers and vibrating balls had been used to ensure Barcelona and Real Madrid were kept apart in the draw at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon last Friday.
"UEFA manipulated the draw for both the Champions League and Europa League," Cakar said, before detailing his theory that those carrying out the draw - former Madrid midfielder Steve McManaman and ex-Barca striker Patrick Kluivert - were made to carry metal objects that sensed vibrations in the balls being selected.
Real Madrid were drawn against Turkish giants Galatasaray, while Barcelona will face PSG, Bayern Munich take on Juventus and Malga meet Borussia Dortmund.
In December, the draw for the Champions League last-16 came up with exactly the same line-up of fixtures as in the practice draw earlier in the day, with the odds of that happening thought to be one in 2 million.