Heat is on as Fifa announces baffling procedure for World Cup draw
One unseeded European team certain to be drawn against a South American seed
Fifa president Sepp Blatter at a press conference yesterday in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil. Photograph: Marcus Brandt/EPA
Fifa will go ahead with its controversial decision to stage World Cup matches at midday in tropical venues, president Sepp Blatter said yesterday as soccer’s governing body announced a bafflingly complex procedure for Friday’s draw.
General secretary Jerome Valcke caused general bewilderment as he tried to explain the workings of the draw which will decide which teams comprise the eight first-round groups at next year’s tournament.
Each group will consist of one team from each of four pots with Pot One featuring the top seeds: Brazil, the host nation, alongside Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland.
The other pots will be based on geographical criteria so that countries from the same confederations are kept apart.
Pot Two will contain the five African teams, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria and Cameroon, plus the non-seeded South American teams Chile and Ecuador and a European team to be moved out of Pot Four in a pre-draw.
Pot Three will feature Japan, Iran, South Korea, Australia, United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras while nine European sides, Bosnia, Croatia, England, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and France, will comprise Pot Four.
Valcke revealed that a pre-draw will be held to move one of the nine European teams into Pot Two where they would then be drawn against one of the four seeded South American teams to preserve the geographical balance of the draw.
To complicate matters further, the four South American seeds would form a temporary Pot X and the three not drawn against the European team in Pot Two will return to the main draw.
A seeded team’s place in the draw will determine how much travelling around the vast hinterland of Brazil, the world’s fifth largest country by area, will be involved and may therefore not be so beneficial as in the past.
The seeds in Group G will play in the intense heat of northeastern cities Fortaleza, Natal, Salvador or Recife. The team that meet Brazil in the opening game will face a 3,880km flight to Manaus in the Amazon for their next match before a 4,508km flight to Recife for their third game.
From June 12th until June 22nd when there are three matches a day – the programme switches to four a day from June 23rd to June 26th for the last round of group games – matches are due to start at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm local time which is 4pm, 7pm and 10pm GMT to maximise European television audiences. The early kick-off time has sparked some unease as it will be very hot in the northeast at that time of day.