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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Video US Men's Soccer Team Eyeing Matches Against Peru, Brazil

The team is hoping to bounce back from a disappointing result in the Gold Cup, when Jamaica upset the US 2-1 in the semifinals
More

Video Scientists Predict Wet Winter in Drought-stricken US West

Strong El Nino could bring relief to dry areas, but punishing droughts to other regions around the globe
More

Guatemala Congress Opens Door for Prosecution of President

With 132 of 158 lawmakers approving a measure to strip immunity, prosecutors now can file criminal charges against Perez Molina just like any other citizen
More

Rio Olympics Official: Water Will Be Clean for Games

Recent report says waters so contaminated with bacteria and viruses from human sewage that athletes could become ill
More

UN: El Nino Could Be Among Strongest on Record

Meteorologists say climate models suggest water temperatures in the tropical Pacific are likely to exceed 2 degrees Celsius above average
More

Awaiting American Avalanche, Cubans Rush to the Beach

Locals flood resorts ahead of possible end to the US travel ban that would open the gates to American tourists and bump up prices
More