Mark your calendars: the draw for the 2014 World Cup goes down this Friday, December 6, at 11:00am on ESPN 2. With the draw procedures officially approved by FIFA earlier this week, I wanted to help explain exactly how the draw will play out (from FIFA.com):
- Geographic separation
Geographic separation prevents teams from the same qualification zone from being draw into the same group. The only exception is for UEFA (Europe), which can have two teams in a group. This is really the only stipulation for the draw and with how the draw set up, it will only affect the draw from UEFA and CONMEBOL (South America).
With four teams in each of the eight World Cup groups, one team will be drawn from each of the four pots to create a single group. Here’s a look at how the pots arranged:
- Pot 1 contains the host nation (Brazil) and the Top 7 nations based on the October FIFA World Rankings. These eight nations are “seeded,” meaning that they will head whatever group they are placed in (ex. Brazil is already designated as “A1”) . I’ll explain the importance of this number in a bit.
- Pot 2 has the five qualifying nations from CAF (Africa) and the remaining nations from CONMEBOL, Chile and Ecuador.
- In Pot 3, we have the eight nations from CONCACAF (North America) and AFC (Asia).
- The nine remaining UEFA teams are in Pot 4.
I’ll explain why Pot 2 and 4 start out uneven down below.
Order of Draw
- Pots emptied in order: 1 through 4
- Groups filled sequentially: A through H
The draw will begin by emptying Pot 1. The nations will be chosen and sorted into the eight groups from A to H. Since Brazil is the host nation, they will automatically head Group A.
After Pot 1 is emptied, the same procedure will be done for Pots 2, 3, 4. NOTE: some groups may be skipped to maintain geographic separation. For example, if a South American team were drawn into Group C with Ecuador, they would be placed in Group D or the next group without a South American team.
The draw will actually begin with Pot 4, where one of the European nations will be chosen and placed into Pot 2, evening out all four.
Once Pot 1 is emptied out, things get a little complicated. At this point, the four seeded South American teams will be placed into a secondary pot. One of the four will be chosen from the pot and matched up with the European nation from Pot 2. This is done to ensure that geographic separation is adhered to. If the European team were drawn into a Group with a seeded European team, said group would end up with three European teams.
After this, Pots 2, 3, and 4 will be emptied in the same order that Pot 1 was drawn.
Draw for Positioning
Once all of the groups are sorted, the positions within the group will be drawn. Since the actual World Cup schedule is made well before the tournament, the match dates and times for the entire group stage will be known once positions are drawn.
This is where Brazil’s designation of “A1” comes into play. “A1” is always reserved for the host nation, ensuring that they always play the opening game of the tournament. Since all of the seeded teams will be “1” in their respective groups, they will all open group play against the team designated as “2”.
A lot to digest, yes, but it’s important information to know if you plan on watching the draw on Friday morning. I also wanted to have a full explanation up before I preview the possible outcomes of the draw tomorrow.
If my explanation confuses you more, try the official FIFA link at the top of the post.