FIFA have been forced to defend more allegations of corruption after the 2018 World Cup hosts, Russia, were selected to play against themselves in the group stages.
The event saw Gary Lineker and Russian presenter Maria Komandnaya announce the teams making up each of the eight groups at next year’s tournament, however there was uproar when the home team were placed into a group all on their own.
“Group A will comprise Russia, Russia, Russia, and Russia,” Lineker announced to a stunned audience, leading many observers to claim that the draw was a fix. Controversially, new rule changes introduced this year mean that Russia will also get to play against themselves in every round of the knockout stages, including the final.
FIFA official Hans Krumm, who presided over the event, was quick to dismiss any allegations of impropriety and assured reporters that the host nation had not had any influence over the draw.
“The Russian government have been gracious hosts and we thank them for allowing us to use this prestigious venue,” said Krumm, who arrived at the Kremlin State Palace earlier in the day in a brand-new Aston Martin Vantage bearing Russian plates.
“FIFA has sworn to stamp out corruption in world football, and both myself and President Putin can say with some certainty that this draw has been carried out in a fair and proper manner,” he continued, pausing briefly to check the time on a pristine, limited-edition gold Rolex.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, a close relative has suddenly died and left me 40 million Roubles in their will, which I must pay into the bank before it closes.”
Countries critical of the Putin regime have fared badly in the draw, with France and Germany being forced to play all of their games in a gulag deep in the Siberian wilderness. England have found themselves in this year’s ‘group of death’, Group F, where they will face off against a Spetnaz counterterrorism assault unit, an intercontinental ballistic missile, and the Ebola virus.
The United States, by contrast, were placed into the relatively easy Group D (USA, a tiny kitten, some traffic cones, and Broadfield Community Primary School second XI) despite not even qualifying for the tournament, fueling further speculation about the Russian government’s relationship with the Trump administration.
Presenter Gary Lineker has so far refused to respond to allegations that he was spotted driving away from the venue in a luxury sports car made entirely from crisps.