Football: `It was a draw with a human touch. It was a real feat'

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The Independent Online
The wind was biting, the kids were screaming - but Michel Platini was happy.

The World Cup draw he had insisted should take place in a stadium for the first time went smoothly. Platini, the co-president of the organising committee, said: "It was a draw with a human touch. There was screaming, there was swearing, there were pains and joys - everything you expect to find in a football stadium."

The former French player and coach added: "It was a real feat. We laid down the gauntlet."

Some of the 18,000 children invited to Marseilles' Stade Velodrome invaded the pitch at the end of the gala match held before the draw but Platini, who campaigned for fences to be removed from World Cup stadia, said it was not a problem. "It was a minor mishap. A sign of the enthusiasm of youths who wanted to fully take part in the celebrations," he said.

Platini felt France had been given a good draw; the hosts meet South Africa, Denmark and Saudi Arabia. "On paper, France have real chances to qualify rather easily for the second phase," he said.

Platini said he did not consider the game between the United States and Iran in Group F to be a high-risk clash. "I'm not sure there will be a lot of American and Iranian supporters at that game," he said.