Belgium football coach Roberto Martinez's big unveiling of the team's World Cup roster was planned for June 4, but many fans and local media suspect the names may have been unwittingly revealed.
A TV report by Flemish broadcaster VRT, which was filming at the site where tailor-made mattresses for each of the national team players were being made, showed images of the mattresses with name tags on them — and some of these names included Belgian football players.
Belgian media began to speculate over whether the names belonged to players going to the World Cup. On Friday, Belgian newspaper Het Lasstste Nieuws published an article saying that, according to their analysis of the TV images, Belgium’s football team had already been selected, including Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens. They also named a few players who would not be going because there were no mattresses with their names.
But the mattress company, LS Bedding, denied being aware of Martinez's final selection for the World Cup.
“The company wishes to deny in this way that they already have the selection that national coach Martinez knows,” said a statement by the company on Saturday.
LS Bedding did not deny they made mattresses for each of the players going to Russia, however, they said they were creating the bespoke mattresses according to the measurements of random Belgian players. The company said it did not know whether these players would make the final team.
So why were the names of Belgian footballers listed on the mattresses?
LS Bedding pointed to IT requirements. “A name reference is always required in our IT system when entering an order but they are randomly entered names,” the company said.
This was backed by Stefan van Loock, spokesman for Belgium's national football team, who told Euronews that LS Bedding chose the names at random to fulfill an IT requirement of having a name tag on all products prepared for delivery.
Van Loock confirmed to Euronews that LS Bedding was making mattresses for the players going to Russia but declined to comment when asked whether the name tags on the mattresses corresponded to players on Belgium’s World Cup team.
“Our 23 will only be named on Monday, June 4,” he said.