Matthaus: Italians are mad

Lothar Matthaus is fending off reports by Italian media that he was involved in rigging last week's 2006 World Cup draw.

Lothar Matthaus draws a lot from Pot 4 as Pele looks on during the World Cup draw

Lothar Matthaus is fending off reports by Italian media that he was involved in rigging last week's 2006 World Cup draw.

The former West German international and 1990 World Cup winning captain had the assignment of drawing teams from Pot Four.

Sky Italia television channel has accused Matthaus of picking up a ball for Italy's group, before replacing it and pulling out another.

The television channel claims hot and cold balls were prepared, allowing the former Inter Milan star to know he was picking the United States (seventh in the FIFA rankings) for Italy's group.

"The Italians are mad if they think that," Matthaus informed German press.

"I had no idea which ball corresponded to which team. That is utter nonsense."

Italy were handed a tough draw as the seeded team in Group E for the 2006 World Cup finals - with the Czech Republic, Ghana and the United States drawn as opponents.
Source SBS