FIFA's Seeding For World Cup Draw Is A Joke

By Malamine Sane
Brazil 2014
Photo: Courtesy of the 2014 World Cup Brazil official Facebook page

The October 2013 FIFA ranking confirmed that hosts Brazil, holders SpainGermanyArgentinaColombiaBelgiumSwitzerland and Uruguay will be the seeded teams in Friday’s World Cup draw. The presence of the latter four teams ahead of Italy and the Netherlands is rather surprising and shows that FIFA got it wrong when they decided to use their ranking to determine the seeds.

Italy and Holland were respectively runners-up of the Euro 2012 and World Cup 2010, while Belgium has missed the last two World Cups. Even worst, Colombia hasn’t been to the World Cup since 1998, but was seeded ahead of Italy and the Netherlands, who were both unbeaten and won their groups in the qualifiers.

Uruguay had to go through two playoff  games against Jordan to clinch their ticket to Brazil. Switzerland, a team that didn’t even go beyond the group stage in the last World Cup in South Africa and failed to qualify for Euro 2012, is a seeded team thanks to FIFA’s absurd way of determining seeds.

By choosing to determine seeded teams based on its October 2013 ranking, FIFA has chosen not to give any respect to past performances of countries like Italy and Holland, who have a glorious past in football. Italy, for instance, has won the World Cup four times. That’s twice as many as Uruguay and four times more Switzerland, Colombia and Belgium combined. Those countries have never even reached the final and have frequently failed to qualify for the tournament.

As we all know, the FIFA ranking takes into account all the meaningless friendlies in which big teams almost never field their best team. The only reason why Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay and Switzerland were ahead of Italy and the Netherlands in the  October FIFA ranking was because they won more friendlies.

Uruguay has won only seven of its 16 games during the qualifiers. In comparison, Italy hasn’t lost a qualifying game (Euro or World Cup) since 2006. The Azzuris are on a 40-game unbeaten streak in qualifiers, and their last defeat was in 2006 in Paris against France in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

Before the Confederations Cup they won last June, Brazil were ranked 22nd in FIFA’s ranking. Since then, the Auriverdes have made some progress and are currently ranked 10th, which means that  if the World Cup was hosted elsewhere, Brazil, five-time winners of the tournament, would not have been seeded. That gives you an idea of how much of a joke FIFA’s seeding procedure is.

With FIFA’s seeding, we are guaranteed at least two group of deaths and two or three weak groups.This means that many top teams could be out after the first round, leaving us with many weak teams in the round of 16. The World Cup hasn’t even started, but FIFA has already messed it up.

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