Friday, November 20, 2009

World Cup 2010 Draw Seedings

With 32 names in the bag (regardless of how they got there) thoughts can now turn to the subject of the draw for the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa.

The first thing to be decided is which countries to seed. This is calculated just before the draw and is based on past performances in recent World Cups and the FIFA World Ranking. Controversially though, the same calculation never seems to be used twice and the choice of calculation is only decided once all the figures are available, leading to allegations that the whole system is rigged.

For 2006, past performances in the last two World Cups were considered with the performance in 2002 carrying twice the value of 1998. This was added to the FIFA ranking over the last three years. Both figures carried equal weight.

In 2002 and 1998 though, the past three World Cups were considered, and in 1998 the past World Cup performance carried 50% more weight in the final totals than the Ranking score.

Confused? It's easily done. Anyway to save you a headache, we've calculated the scores for each country using the same method as 2006 and the results are shown on the left (click to enlarge)...

The good news is no matter which system from the last three World Cups you use, the seven seeds selected are the same every time. However, should FIFA cook up a new formula between now and the draw, everything could change.

Do the seeds deserve their placing? Well it's almost impossible to argue with the inclusion of Brazil or Germany, with Italy as holders and Spain as European champions and ranked number one in the world their places are secured. England make it by virtue of their consecutive quarter final placings and France have reached the Final in two of the last three tournaments.

Argentina are there despite recent form and they only just manage to nudge out Portugal who also failed to impress during qualification. The team it's hardest on is the Netherlands - ranked third in the world for over a year, they're suffering from failing to qualify in 2002. If the new system of calculation puts more weight on ranking rather than finals performance, England could be in trouble.

One thing is for sure - if Netherlands aren't seeded, they're guaranteed to be drawn in the "Group of Death"...

Likely draw Pots:

Pot A: Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, England, France, Argentina, South Africa
Pot B: Paraguay, Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Uruguay, Chile, Algeria
Pot C: Portugal, Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark, Slovenia, Slovakia
Pot D: Mexico, USA, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Honduras, New Zealand, North Korea

The draw takes place on Friday 4th December, with the seeding being announced two days before.


Anonymous said...

Greetings all.
On the previous WC2006. keeping european teams appart was done somewhat differently.
It involved that one european team had to be put into a special pot and drawed first in one of the Groups. (in that case it turned out to be then Serbia&Montenegro, as the lowest ranking euro team). This meant that this team would guaranteedly face Argentina or Mexico as a top seed in that group. Turned out to be the Group of Death, C, with Holland and Ivory Coast joining Argentina and Serbia&Mont.
This decision was also made at the last moment. Heidi Clum did the rest, maybe with the balls from the fridge ("pull out the colder, Heidi") :)
Anyway, If this was to be repeated in this WC, then Slovenia would be in that situation now.

As for the Pot's 2, 3, 4, they were made by an geografical criteria. All this surely was felt unfair.
This was made to avoid following conditions:
Maximum 2 Teams from the UEFA zone in a Group
Maximum 1 Team from the (other) same FIFA zone's in a Group.

But if the Pots 2, 3 ,4 also like Pot 1, wouldn't be consisted by an regional criteria, but achievments, (past 2 WC's and FIFA Rankings) in that situation, I think those conditions could also be kept by a directed draw- (removing a team or more from the momentary draw of a particular Group when facing a possibility of breaking one of above rules)*

As it seems, now the Host, South Africa, will be put into Pot 1. That is understandable, considering that is in the economical and public interest that the Host team go as far as possible. If you follow past World Cups, from the last 4 decades, and 10 World cups, the Host made it through the Group Stage. Even when the Tournament had started to play out in somewhat egzotic football places. This time, though, it would be hard to see S.Africa to go through, considering that through achievements they would be in the last Pot 4. So, they have been granted an even bigger chance then some previous Hosts.

So, if the Pots 2, ,3 ,4 also like Pot 1, wouldn't be consisted by an regional criteria, but achievments, (past 2 WC's and FIFA Rankings) then the Pots would be look like this:

S.Africa, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, England, Argentina, France

Portugal, Netherlands, Mexico, USA, Switzerland, Paraguay, Ghana, R.Korea

POT 3.
Cameroon, Japan, Australia, Greece, IvoryC, Serbia, Denmark, Nigeria

POT 4.
Uruguay, Chile, Honduras, Slovakia, Slovenia, Algeria, N.Zealand, Korea DPR

Possible groups in a random (directed*) draw of these Pots:








DPR Korea

Peter Shaw said...

How fair is this system? Totally and one hundred percent unfair. But are we suprised? No. Pot A is fine. What I don't agree with is the system of having everyone in Europe in Pot C. This means that teams like New Zealand, North Korea, Algeria and Honduras will all have hardly any chance of getting a goal, never mind a point. Whats the point of going to a World Cup if your going to be cheated out of even making an impression. The World Cup should not be seeded, yes i know that sounds stupid, but here me out first.

If "big teams" like Brazil, Spain, France, Germany, Argentina and Italy all want to prove they are worthy of a place in the World Cup final, they should have a chance of maybe meeting one another in the group stages. It would be good for fans as casual fans would be enticed by the prospect of exciting matches in the groups and we would also get a chance of having supposedly "small teams" get good runs together and therefore if they progress from the griups they will get great finance and players will be poached by bigger clubs to make the teams better.

On the other hand, who is going to agree with me? No-one at FIFA, thats for sure. It would dent their bank accounts to have a big team not progress from the groups. In 2006 they were so determined to see all the big teams there they made sure Italy beat Australia by getting a penalty in the worst refereeing decision on a penalty ever. An absolute disgrace that Australia didn't get what they deserved and Italy won the bloody world cup. I have relatives from bothe IRELAND and AUSTRALIA, so how do you think I feel right now. The World Cup is a joke and I hope the final is New Zealand v Honduras for the sake of seeing Sepp Blatter's and Michel Platini's red faces.

sp3ktor said...

Two interesting opinions but I don't think either approach offers anything more than the current system offers. In my opinion, the regional pots offer a guaranteed global mix to each group without the need to interfere too greatly with the draw - for example, no need to put an African team back in the bag because you've already drawn one out for that group.

I don't think that any pot is necessarily weaker or stronger than any other. In fact if spilt Anonymous's pots you find an even spread. Europe have three in the strongest unseeded pot, three in the middle pot and two in the weakest. For the Africa/South America pot the split is 2/3/3 and for the Asia/CONCACAF pot it's 3/2/3.

The only intervention required to make sure that no nations from the same federation (other than Europe of course) play in the same group requires keeping the African and South American teams separated while drawing pot b for South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.

Sorry, Peter - but it's the World Cup - experience shows that some of the worst games are when the weaker teams meet - remember Ukraine v Switzerland? I think weaker teams deserve their chance to play the strongest teams and not be protected by providence. If you want to watch Honduras v New Zealand - well you enjoy yourself - I'll be watching Ghana v Netherlands on the other side.

Peter Shaw said...

Must admit in retrospect my idea is utterly stupid, mostly induced by me still feeling annoyed at the France -Ireland result. I would actually have to agree with you purely based on having watched Switzerland - Ukraine all the way through. What I'm trying to say is that I don't agree with my own idea. However it is weird to think that croatia, who are 8th I think in the FIFA rankings didn't even get out of the groups.

Sorry for the stupidity of my previous rant

Anonymous said...

Can I ask 2 potentially stupid questions about previous posts?

No? Well tough, I am going to.

1. Why are Holland gaurenteed of being in the group of death if they're not seeded? There might not even be a readily identifiable "group of death".

2. If Holland are seeded, why might England need to "look out"? Surely next on the list to drop is Argentina?

sp3ktor said...

Not stupid at all - hopefully I can give two sensible answers.

1. The Netherlands have been ranked 3rd in the world for more than a year now, you would think that whatever group they are drawn into they will be favourites to progress from with the seeded nation. Essentially it's the group of death for anyone else drawn into that group - especially if Mexico and Ivory Coast are also drawn into it. The next Sound of Football podcast will be a mock draw which will make a lot of things clearer I hope.

2. The current seedings are based on recent World Cup performance and FIFA world rankings. They're currently given equal weight - but in the past, World Cup performance has had more bearing. England's ranking over the last three years has been poorer than all the other seeds (apart from the host) and also worse than Portugal and Netherlands - but two recent Quarter finals have boosted England's claim. If FIFA decided to do it purely on ranking England would miss out and be replaced by Netherlands.

Nigel Duncan said...

Hi all - good to see that fans care enough to write.

Interesting thoughts and comments.What i cannot understand though is the obsession with keeping countries from the same continent apart. Surely the seeding pots should be based strictly on RECENT merit [ including achievements in the latest Continental Championships ] and not on geopolitical criterea.So what if a group should contain 4 European teams [ very unlikely anyway ] - look at the quality and excitement of , say, Euro 2000 . You cannot guarantee a good match by simply pairing two distant countries together.

If the pots are seeded fairly , there should be no "Group of Death". Holland should definitely be in Pot One btw , their absence in 2002 is too long ago to be a factor and France and England , after their repective failures at/before Euro 2008 should be consigned to Pot Two.

sp3ktor said...

I can see your point Nigel, but for me, I like the fact that by separating conferences there will only be five same-conference matches out of the first 48 games.

I think it provides a reward for countries that don't always make it - a chance to play against teams from the other side of the world rather than the ones you play every year. Ranking all teams by performance would mean seedings from 1-32 and remove even the smallest glimmer of hope for "weaker nations" getting the luck of the draw.

It's a rough deal on Netherlands certainly - being penalised for a qualification period that began over nine years ago (in fact, before 2006, FIFA used performance over THREE World Cups). Using the average ranking over the last three years they would be seeded along with Portugal at the expense of England and France. I guess this method of factoring performance and ranking rewards success in the tournament even if you don't win it.

Like most systems there are winners and losers and strong cases for and against.

Xonizuka said...

Who said Netherlands gaurenteed of being in the group of death if they're not seeded, the draw result might end up something like --> South Africa, Chile, Netherlands, North Korea :)

Anonymous said...

check out what this guy has to say about the ireland/france dilemma. it sounds crazy, but i think its plausible.. leave feedback, because i seriously think its a legitimate concern. said...


i belive australia, will perform better in this worls cup. serbia is the best under dog and will qualify for quarterfinal, england must be in semifinal. netherland will be one of the semifinalist.usa will play quarter final. north korea must play quarterfinal,newzealand will play quarterfinal, portugal will play in semifinal, spain will play semifinal at least, german will be in quarterfinal. denmark will be in quarterfinal. among this eight countries, 4 semifinalist will be selected, brazil, australia, england, spain, portugal,serbia, uruguay,mexico.

Nigel Duncan said...

Sp3ktor - your points are very well argued and , upon reflection, i would agree that more exotic pairings do add a certain frisson to proceedings [ anyone for N.Korea vs Uruguay ? 4 red cards at least !! ]

I can also see that my idea[l] of a 1-32 seeding is very boring (: ...but... it is fair. Like everyone else , i love it when the group underdog progresses but it it has more value when achieved on merit [ ; Morocco 86 ; Cameroon 90; Senegal 02 etc] rather than via a benign draw.

Oh , and yes , you're right about FIFA delving into the archives....i seem to remember Uruguay getting a favourable draw for Italia 90....apparently based upon their 1950 triumph...even though it was pretty safe to assume that nobody from that victorious squad was still in the team !!

And Drashad , i hope your predictions come true - you'll get spectacular odds at your Bookies mate !!

Bruno said...

To Whom It May Concern:
I hoped an assignment of the matches in South Africa to be only based on a numerical draw which would pairing up the 32 teams selected only by chance forming the eight tournaments.
By "manually" assigning therefore not drawing the strong "historical" teams in Pot-1 but only drawing the rest of the teams (24) in this 12/4/9 draw FIFA orchestrated the eight tournaments for the 32 teams like eight cages with a wolf and three chickens in each cage. Without drawing, only FIFA and no-others decided which team the strongest "historical" teams would compete with.
The historical European teams of Pot-1 were not drawed for the assignment of the matches because odds are that the wolves would prevail on the chickens therefore FIFA increased the overall possibility that the world cup would and the $30 millions prize be remaining among the “historical” strong seeded teams of Pot-1.
In a simple numerical draw the seeded teams of Pot-1 would have had the opportunity to play themselves and possibly be eliminated sooner.
To favor intentionally the historical European teams and Brazil of Pot-1 at the expenses of all others is a scam.
The world cup 2010 draw was rigged because some end-results were statistically predetermined on an engineered plan rather than have the teams playing their merit on the soccer field.
By increasing the odds and favor a group of soccer teams the South Africa swindle will also affect the final winner of the world cup
simply because the South Africa 2010 draw swindle will prevent, with absolute statistical certainty, the chickens to advance in the higher legs of the tournament and win.
It is true that the winner must prevail on all others but statistics indicate that without doubt wolves will prevail on chickens.
All teams outsite Pot-1 should take FIFA and together with FIFA, all teams that benefited by the scam in court.
Primarly this should be done in order to prevent FIFA to dishonestly to manipulated the future world cup draws and correct what went wrong in the 2010 current draw.
Bruno Nardi


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