News

South Africa Readies for Excitement of World Cup Draw

Hundreds of millions of football, or soccer, fans in some 200 countries are expected to tune in Friday for the World Cup draw in South Africa.

General view of Coca Cola Park in Johannesburg, 01 Dec 2009
General view of Coca Cola Park in Johannesburg, 01 Dec 2009

Hundreds of millions of football, or soccer, fans in some 200 countries are expected to tune in Friday for the World Cup draw in South Africa.  The draw determines which teams will play in what groups during Africa's first World Cup.

The solid gold World Cup trophy arrived in Cape Town Thursday and the executive committee of football's governing body, FIFA, met on historic Robben Island as the final countdown began for next year's World Cup.

The head of the local organizing committee, Danny Jordaan, said the draw would allow organizers to finalize lodging and transportation arrangements for the 32 teams and the estimated 450,000 fans expected to attend.

"This is really the real kick off of the World Cup," said Jordaan. "It is about the groups.  It is about the fixtures [games].  It is about the match venues.  So everybody can go into finally fine-tuning their operational plans."

The names of the 32 teams have been placed into one of four pots.  One team from each pot will be chosen by random to play in each of the eight groups.

South Africa, as host, has been seeded in the first pot with the world's seven top-seeded teams, as ranked by FIFA.  These include Brazil, Spain, Italy, England, Germany, Netherlands and Argentina.

This means South Africa will not play any of these teams in the first round.

The second pot contains teams from Asia, Oceania and North and Central America.  Mexico and the United States are the higher ranked teams in this group, which also includes Australia, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, New Zealand and Honduras.

The third pot contains unseeded teams from Africa and South America.  Ivory Coast and Chile are highly regarded here. They are joined by Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The fourth pot includes the unseeded European teams.  France and Portugal are viewed as strong although both struggled to qualify. The remaining teams are Denmark, Greece, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.

France qualified last month after beating Ireland by a goal scored off a handball by Captain Thierry Henry that was missed by referees.  This led to calls for more referees on the field and the possible use of video replays in important games.

FIFA head Sepp Blatter acknowledged the controversy but said it was too late to make changes for this World Cup.

"On the field of play we will have only one referee and two assistants," said Blatter. "This is for 2010.  Definite.  It will not be discussed.  Later on we will see how it works."

He said a disciplinary committee would examine the violation in the France-Ireland game, which could lead to a one-game suspension for Henry at the start of the tournament.

Blatter also said the disciplinary committee would examine the incidents that arose after a controversial match between Egypt and Algeria that has strained relations between the two countries.  

Organizers say Friday's draw will have a distinctly African flavor and the government has spent several billion dollars upgrading stadiums, airports, roads and security services in preparation for Africa's first World Cup.

Western Cape Province Premier Hellen Zille said hopefully the investment will pay off.

"We have all taken a leap forward as a country, but we are also doing that because we hope that there will be a return on that investment in terms of tourism," said Zille. "And so it is a calculated investment, and I think that people will be very wise to come and see what we have done."

Officials say work on the 10 stadiums to be used during the Cup is 95 percent finished.  And FIFA says it has secured most of the 55,000 rooms it requires for the tournament.

Officials say one-fourth of the three million tickets have been sold.  They expect sales to skyrocket next week after fans learn when and where their favorite teams will play.  
 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs