I don’t know how many readers of this journal would have been watching the draw for the opening matches of the 1990 football World Cup, made in Rome on Saturday, 9 December 1989, and televised worldwide. But I do hope that most of you that did—and who were paying attention!—at least thought “Hey, wait a minute, that can’t be right!” Sure enough, the draw was flawed: it was not as fair to all concerned as it might have been. This was a great pity given that the world football authority, FIFA, were at pains to stress how fair these proceedings would be, and the agonies of FIFA trying to be seen to live up to their “fair play” motto were indeed prolonged. The errors lay not in the process of drawing balls from urns itself, but in the algorithm used to define the drawing procedure, as I shall explain below. The problem was caused by FIFA’s decision to keep the four South American countries involved apart and, in particular, by their inability to implement this decision in the most fair manner. There is no allegation of anything being “fixed” here, just one of incompetence on behalf of football’s governing body. That there should be errors of this kind in such an overtly public affair is, however, yet another sad indictment of the general lack of understanding of matters numerical and probabilistic in the public at large.