Posted October 04, 2013

FIFA makes World Cup seeding decision, delays on Qatar World Cup timing

2014 World Cup, 2022 World Cup, U.S. men's national team
The U.S. will need lots of help to earn a top seed in FIFA's 2014 World Cup seeding.

The U.S. will need lots of help to earn a top seed in FIFA’s 2014 World Cup seeding. (Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images)

Critics will continue to question the validity and fairness of FIFA’s monthly national team ranking. But its importance isn’t up for debate.

Shortly after it decided to put off a decision on whether to shift the 2022 World Cup to the Qatari “winter,” FIFA announced Friday that the top seeds for the eight first-round groups in the 2014 tournament will be chosen based on October’s ranking. Brazil, as host, plus the next seven highest-rated qualifiers will be placed in the prime pot for the Dec. 6 draw in Mata de São João. There doesn’t seem to be much of a chance that the U.S., currently ranked 13th, will make the cut.

That all-important ranking will be released Oct. 17. FIFA opted to use the October standings, rather than November’s, to avoid giving an advantage to those teams that will secure additional points from World Cup qualifying playoff rounds (FIFA occasionally does something sensible).

As of now, the countries in pole position are reigning world champion Spain, as well as Argentina, Germany, Italy, Colombia, Belgium and Uruguay. From that list, only Argentina and Italy have confirmed their spots in Brazil, although Colombia, Germany, Spain and Belgium are in good shape. Seventh-ranked Uruguay is battling with Ecuador for the final automatic berth from South America and may have to negotiate a playoff with Jordan for a place at the World Cup.

If La Celeste falter, No. 9 Netherlands is next in line (Brazil is eighth).

Thanks to a run of 13 wins in 14 games, the U.S. has surged from a 2013 low of 33rd to 13th. But with its only October games against low-ranked opposition (No. 78 Jamaica and No. 35 Panama) the necessary points likely aren’t there.

ESPN stats guru Paul Carr tweeted out this Reddit post from a user who claimed to have poured through all the possible permutations. He concluded there was a path to a World Cup seed for the U.S., but it required the Americans to win both upcoming qualifiers plus an enormous amount of good fortune in both Europe and South America. We’ll let you double check his math if you’re so inclined.

This will be the second straight World Cup at which FIFA seeds the groups based on the preceding October ranking. Prior to 2010 it used a more complicated formula that factored in performance at previous World Cup tournaments, a system that made it even more difficult for the U.S. to snatch a seed. In October 2009, the Americans were 13th. They were the third highest-ranked team to miss out on a seed but got lucky at the subsequent draw by being paired with an overrated England squad. In a couple of weeks, coach Jurgen Klinsmann will have a list of the potential favorites that await his team in Brazil.

World Cup seeding and generally avoiding the big Qatar question weren’t the only things discussed at Friday’s FIFA Executive Committee meeting, which included U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati. The governing body agreed to allow for “cooling breaks” in the 30th and 75th minutes of 2022 World Cup matches if the temperature exceeds 89 degrees. The average high in Doha is at least 90 from mid-April through October. The move isn’t unprecedented as FIFA permitted breaks during some day games at the 1994 World Cup in the U.S.

Regarding the controversy over when to hold the Qatar World Cup, FIFA announced that a working group chaired by Asian Football Confederation president Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain will consult various FIFA stakeholders, media rights holders and sponsors on a potential shift to the winter.

In a statement, FIFA said, “The executive outlined that the tournament would be played in nine years’ time and that therefore the consultation process would not be rushed but would be given the necessary time to consider all of the elements relevant for a decision. Consequently, no decision will be taken before the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.”

STRAUS: FIFA to form task force to study possible winter 2022 Qatar World Cup

16 comments
JoelHardman
JoelHardman

So you're telling me there's a chance?

mystafugee
mystafugee

I'm not a big fan of the idea that Qatar is hosting but having said that, the whole "the World Cup can't interrupt the European domestic season" is B.S.  Other leagues have their seasons interrupted all the time: South America, North America, Asia, so one out of 100 seasons is interrupted, boo hoo!

swidt
swidt

"the consultation process would not be rushed but would be given the necessary time to consider all of the elements relevant for a decision. "  -LOL.  AFTER having awarded the WC to Qatar way too early and with admittedly too little scrutiny, NOW the process will not be rushed and all elements will be considered.  -Count on it, after WC Brazil next summer, talks of moving the WC out of Qatar will pick up and unless a whole new round of FIFA officials get paid off, the WC will be moved, with maybe the semi-finals and final to stay in Qatar.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

"...an overrated England squad.' That's true every four years, isn't it?

soccerBob
soccerBob

Can't have the WC in the summer in Qatar.

You can't interrupt the European domestic leagues to have the WC in the winter.

FIFA needs to move the WC. (and Blatter needs to resign or be fired asap!)

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

@mystafugee

We're talking A MONTH LONG interruption, right in the heart of the season for the European big-money super leagues, involving droves of their very best players being taken away.  

This will *radically* alter the competitive landscape for that season in the EPL, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, etc.  The super clubs in those leagues will basically not be super for a huge chunk of the season.  If this is allowed to happen, the 2022 domestic season in Europe will pretty much have an all-time asterisk put on it.

Whether it's "one out of 100 seasons" is irrelevant.  The billionaire owners of the super clubs aren't going to care, dude.  All they're going to care about is that players they're paying tens and hundreds of thousands of euros *a week* are going to miss a fourth of the season, never mind the possibility of them getting injured in the World Cup and then missing even more of their club seasons.

Perhaps you're too naive to foresee it, but those of us with a clue can see what's coming quite clearly:  the super greed of the super clubs going head to head, vicious tooth and nail, with the super greed of FIFA.  It's going to be interesting watching how the conflict of interest in play among the opposing mega-rich and corrupt pans out in the run up to the '22 Cup.

If any entities in the sport can potentially check FIFA's authority, it's the billion-euro grossing super clubs.

Adam
Adam

@mystafugee But those are all second rate leagues.  The best talent in the world plays in England, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France.  Even the Dutch and Russian leagues are much better than pretty much every league in the world outside of maybe Brazil or Argentina.  Almost all of the talent on the national teams are coming from European leagues.  So yes, interrupting their season is  a big deal.

mystafugee
mystafugee

@Rickapolis TO be honest most of it is media hype.  I remember the Sun back in 2006 without any tongue in cheek suggesting that only Brazil had better players than England entering the 2006 WC.  

Aaron14
Aaron14

@soccerBob The European Leagues can start two weeks early and finish two weeks late to accommodate the time needed for the World Cup.  Its a one year adjustment that will probably never be needed again.  Big deal. 

M20
M20

@soccerBob Qatar is a total mess. The most sensible thing would be to move it. But that's not going to happen, because then the voters would have to return their bribes.

brucemcfarlandoncins1
brucemcfarlandoncins1

Like it or not Qatar will happen. They basically said they will not decide until after 2014. Then they will drag their feet some more and probably around 2018, they will state it is too late to move it somewhere else. The only option is for the tv rights owners and advertisers to put up a legal battle. But I doubt it as most governments want to give Qatar a cookie because it benefits them in some way.

mystafugee
mystafugee

@Adam @mystafugee So what if they're second rate?  Point is that other leagues have their seasons interrupted, I think the European leagues could stand to have it happen to them once.  Maybe the big 4 (5 if you count ligue 1 and their new cash infusion) are heads and shoulders above the rest but after, it's debatable if Eredivisie and Premeira Liga teams are better than South American leagues.  

soccerBob
soccerBob

@Aaron14 @soccerBob I dont think its quite that easy.  National team players are spread all over the world playing for their club teams.  Two extra weeks added to the regular winter break is not really enough time to get the national teams together, train together, play the WC, recover, then gear back up for play with your club team.  Not to mention the issue of dividing the domestic season in half with a 8-10-12 week intermission.  It appears to me to be a huge deal.

swidt
swidt

@M20 @soccerBob Nah, all the bribe takers will have moved on in 12 months, and their replacements will the ones holding their hands out to NOT move the games to somewhwere else.  -That's the problem with paying people off too many years in advance.

swidt
swidt

@brucemcfarlandoncins1 Everyone is going to play nice until next summer's WC is completed, and then the real debate over moving from Qatar will begin.