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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

New Brazil Poll Shows Silva Beating Rousseff in Runoff

Outcome seemed unimaginable just a few weeks ago; would put an end to 12 years of Workers' Party rule
More

Argentina Desires Deal Grouping All Holdout Investors Together

A deal is now not seen likely before next year's October presidential election, in which Fernandez cannot run
More

Hurricane Cristobal Kills Four, Moves Toward Bermuda

Storm is not expected to threaten US, but could cause deadly surf and rip currents from Florida to North Carolina
More

Peru's Congress Narrowly OKs Humala's New Cabinet on 3rd Vote

Lawmakers ratify president's embattled cabinet after ruling party offers to suspend rule requiring independent workers to pay into a pension program
More

Brazil's Deadly Prison Riot Ends

Officials say two inmates were beheaded during the Cascavel riot; two others were thrown to their deaths from the roof, and police are investigating how a fifth inmate died
More

Amid Slowdown, Chileans Adjust to New Economic Reality

Most economists now predict overall growth in country's economy of between 2.0 and 2.5 percent this year, down from 4.1 percent in 2013
More