News / Americas

Heat is On as FIFA Announces Convoluted Draw Procedure

Miniature model of the National Stadium on display during preparations to host 2014 soccer World Cup, Brasilia, Brazil, April 1, 2013.
Miniature model of the National Stadium on display during preparations to host 2014 soccer World Cup, Brasilia, Brazil, April 1, 2013.
Reuters
FIFA will go ahead with its controversial decision to stage World Cup matches at midday in tropical venues, president Sepp Blatter said on Tuesday as soccer's governing body announced a bafflingly complex procedure for Friday's draw.
 
General Secretary Jerome Valcke caused general bewilderment among listeners as he tried to explain the workings of the draw, which will decide which teams comprise each of the eight first-round groups in next year's tournament.
 
“It's not easy to understand it the first time, I agree with you,” he said as the confusion became clear. “It took me some time to be sure I had the right explanation.”
 
Each group will consist of one team from each of four pots. Pot 1 features 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 2 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 4 in a pre-draw.
 
Pot 3 will feature Japan, Iran, South Korea, Australia, the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras.
 
Pot 4 will start with 9 European sides: Bosnia, Croatia, England, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and France, one of which will be randomly removed before the draw begins and placed into pot 2, 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 2 will return to the main draw.
 
Not Beneficial
 
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 as beneficial as in the past.
 
The seeded team from Pot 1 drawn into Group H will have a relatively easy first round schedule, with matches in the milder conditions of Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
 
But the seeds in Group G will play in the intense heat of the northeastern cities Fortaleza, Natal, Salvador or Recife.
 
The team that will meet Brazil in the opening match - position A2 in the draw -- will face a 3,880-km flight to Manaus in the Amazon for their next match before a 4,508-km flight to Recife for their third game.
 
Any team surviving that probably deserves a place in the last 16 for stoicism alone.
 
Kickoff times could also pose a threat to a team's chances, depending on whether they play in the humid north or the chilly south.
 
From June 12 until June 22, when there are three matches a day -- the program switches to four matches a day from June 23 to June 26 for the last round of group games -- matches are due to start at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm local time, which is 1600GMT, 1900GMT and 2200GMT to maximize European television audiences.
 
However, the early kickoff time has sparked some unease as it will be very hot in the northeast at that time of day.
 
Blatter said last month that FIFA may reconsider but changed his mind on Tuesday.
 
“We are sticking with the kickoff times, they have been decided. There is no change,” he told reporters.
 
From June 23 to June 26, a pair of games will kick off at 1pm and the other pair at the same time later in the afternoon, although the clock will show 4pm in one stadium and 5pm at the other because they are in different time zones.
 
Brazil, already allocated position A1 in the draw, will kick off the World Cup on June 12 in Sao Paulo, where two construction workers were killed last week when a crane collapsed on to the stadium staging the opening match.
 
The host team then plays in Fortaleza before finishing their group matches in the capital, Brasilia.
 
In such a vast country, there was an early plan to revert to the arrangements once used in World Cups where teams were based in one region instead of travelling all over the country, but Brazilian organizers did not want one region to stage all of Brazil's first round games.
 
As that was not politically expedient, FIFA agreed that every team had to travel all over, resulting in the huge distances covered, apart from those in Group H where the venues are relatively close.
 
The team drawn in position E3 has the unenviable task of playing in the wintry cool of Porto Alegre and then the tropical heat of Salvador in its first two group matches.
 
With the World Cup less than 200 days away and with roads, airport buildings, stadiums and other infrastructure projects unlikely to be ready or abandoned altogether, Brazil's problems seemed a long way away in the idyllic resort setting of Costa do Suape, in Bahia state, where the draw will take place.
 
Representatives of the eight countries to have won the World Cup will assist in the draw; organizers said that living legend Pele would be included as well.
 
Friday's glitzy ceremony, being shown live in 193 countries around the world, will for 90 minutes at least mask all the problems Brazil still faces to be ready in time for next year's big kickoff.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

US, Cuba Teams Discuss Telecommunications Issues

US delegation visited Cuba this week as the two nations continued efforts to restore diplomatic relations broken over 50 years ago
More

Egyptian Court Adjourns Trial of Al Jazeera Journalists to April 22

Two journalists are charged with aiding a terrorist organization, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt banned following 2013 army takeover
More

Rio Exhibition Dramatizes Olympian Bay Cleanup Task

Display highlights problem of trash in Guanabara Bay, where sailing, windsurfing events are to take place in next Summer Games
More

Chile Says Drought Permanent, Lays Out Water Plan

President Michelle Bachelet says government will invest in desalinization plants and reservoirs to ensure access to potable water
More

Poll: Venezuelan Leader's Popularity Inches Up to 25%

Rise comes after United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials
More

High Winds, Drought Feed Chilean Forest Fires

Blazes have ravaged swaths of China Muerta and Nalca Lolco reserves and Conguillio national park, revered for its ancient forests
More