International House of Dan: 32 Little Balls

Friday, December 04, 2009

32 Little Balls

In just a few hours, FIFA will conduct the drawing to determine the groupings for the upcoming World Cup, next summer in South Africa. The rules for the drawing are quite complicated - they are believed to be a throwback to the corrupt Havelange days, designed to increase the odds that Argentina will be in the Group of Death and that Brazil will not face a serious opponent until at least the semi-finals.

The seeded teams - South Africa (hosts), Argentina, Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy, England and Brazil - go into the first "pot", so that each of the eight groups (labeled "A" through "H") will contain one seeded team. The seedings were based on October, 2009 FIFA rankings. October was used because at that time, the playoff qualifiers had not begun (using the November rankings would have seen Argentina and England overtaken by France and Portugal on the basis of extra qualifiers). The remaining 24 teams are placed into three additional "pots" so that the drawing will produce eight groups of four teams each. South Africa will automatically become team "A1", the remaining seeded teams will be randomly placed into groups B-H, but will retain the 1 designation in whatever group they go into.

The pot assignments are based on geography, so that the drawing itself will conform with the rules. For example, with the exception of Europe, teams may not face another team from their same confederation, and when it's time to draw from pot 3 in the group containing Argentina, the three other South American teams may not be drawn (leaving only the five African teams in pot 3). The same will be the case for the group containing Brazil.

The drawing will officially launch the 2010 World Cup prognostication season; that magical time every four years where the millions world-wide who follow the tournament will predict, project, and prophesy what will happen in South Africa this coming June. Think NCAA Tournament brackets, times about 3 billion people.

The drawing will take place at 19:00, local time, and can be seen in the U.S. at 11:00 E.S.T. on ESPN. The Third Phase of World Cup ticket sales will launch on December 5.


Post a Comment

<< Home