The Luxembourg Football Federation (FLF) faced criticism last week over its handling of a drawing to select first-round matches for its Women’s Cup competition on 13 October.
For its part, the FLF said the process was handled properly.
The drawing was held on 24 September as the FLF determined match-ups in all of its cup competitions, including the round of 16 in the Luxembourg Cup, the winner of which enters qualification for the Uefa Europa League. Team names were placed inside small plastic balls and placed in a large bowl. The balls were drawn out of a bowl by Alex Kapp, a former coach of Luxembourg’s national under-21 team who now works for Freelander’s, a league sponsor.
However, Kapp was seen repeatedly drawing balls, then putting them back in the bowl and redrawing another team before handing handed the balls to Marco Richard and Nicolas Schockmel, both members of the FLF’s board, who announced the selection.
This happened at least 10 separate times, as demonstrated in a video edited and published by Tageblatt Lëtzebuerg on 24 September and by Diario AS, a Spanish sports newspaper, on 3 October. Diaro AS wrote that the “draw raise[d] eyebrows” as Kapp “had a long, hard look and put some back in.”
The ensuing flap was dubbed “Ballgate”.
Romain Schumacher, board chair of the F91 Dudelange team, was quoted by Tageblatt as saying: “It’s a scandal what happened there. The draw must be repeated.” The board chair of FC Differdange 03, Fabrizio Bei, told the newspaper: “I don’t want to blame anyone personally, but it’s a disgraceful business what happened there”.
Fans on the online forum Reddit called it “strange” and “suspicious” and theorised that the balls had been marked in order to skew the results. Many commented about the fact that Kapp looked for several seconds at the outside of balls before he tossed them back in the bowl or handing them to Richard or Schockmel.
Federation: procedure was followed
The FLF was having none of it. It said in a press release on 25 September that the plastic balls are non-transparent and sealed before the drawing takes place, under a long-established procedure that ensures the drawings are conducted at random.
The federation also stated that, after reviewing a full video of event:
“No manipulation was found and that the drawing took place according to the planned procedure.
“No ball was opened by Mr Alex Kapp before it was handed over to the drawing officials. The balls were then opened either by Mr Marco Richard or by Mr Nico Schockmel.
“Some of Alex Kapp’s reactions during the draws may have been a bit unusual, but do not put into question the proper running of the drawings.
“While we understand certain reactions, we nevertheless regret that the integrity of the participants and/or process was put into doubt.”