The Final Draw for the FIFA World Cup is as spectacular as it is significant. Yet its transformation into the theatrical event it is today only began when the groups were composed for Italy 1990.
It took place at the stunning Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome in December 1989. It was attended by close to 1,500 journalists and legendary footballers such as Pele, Bobby Moore and Karl-Heinz Rumminegge. It included a presentation of the tournament’s official mascot, Ciao – an eye-catching stick figure with a football for its head – and a performance of its official song, Un'estate Italiana (An Italian Summer).
The 24 qualified teams were drawn into six groups of four by FIFA Secretary General Joseph S. Blatter – the now FIFA President – and two of the biggest stars in Italian entertainment history, Luciano Pavarotti and Sophia Loren.
Among the greatest operatic tenors and actresses in history respectively, the pair was not just chosen because of their immense celebrity. Pavarotti had the chance to pursue a career as goalkeeper before giving it up to concentrate on signing – “I probably loved football a little more than I loved music at the time, but my voice was probably a little better than my hands” he later explained - while Loren once said: “I am in love with football and Napoli!”
The presence of Loren, seen above conducting the draw with Blatter, began a tradition of stunning actresses participating in the Final Draw for the biggest competition in men’s and women’s football respectively. Heidi Klum and Charlize Theron were the said beauties for Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, while Adriana Karembeu helped establish the groups for last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.