World Cup Seeding: How Will it Work?

FIFA has announced they will determine World Cup seeding at a meeting a Robben Island in early December, just before the official World Cup draw.

 The World Cup seeding process had previously taken into account the performance in the last three World Cup tournaments, in addition to world rankings. But this time it appears that the FIFA ranking could be the leading factor.

 According to the FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke,

“As the FIFA president said, there are only 11 countries which are already qualified. At the beginning we thought that we could give information about the draw at this Executive Committee meeting, but we still need to see if Argentina will qualify, some teams which are really in the top teams in order to understand how it will work. And clearly we will follow the FIFA ranking system and again you will see the teams, the top teams, and we will divide them in these different pots, but again it’s too early and when we’ll have all the teams qualified then there will be an information at the Organizing Committee which is taking place I think on the 1st or 2nd of December then there will be a ratification by the Executive Committee on the 3rd and unfortunately in a way because I will be the one drawing the balls and doing this draw, we will have to wait until the end of the 3rd of December to know exactly the process of the draw, of the final draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. So you can be sure that the best teams will be seeded as it is the case all the time, but how exactly teams will be divided it’s too early to say.”

 

Should World Rankings be the leading factor in determining seeds, Holland could go be the big winner, while Argentina (should they qualify)the big loser. The idea of Argentina not being seeded in a World Cup based largely on qualifying struggles is to me, very hard to believe and would represent a major reversal in FIFA’s policy of emphasizing  historical achievement over current form.

 A projection of this month’s World Ranking can be found at the indispensible Football Rankings blog site.

 

1

Brazil

1677

0

73

2

Spain

1629

0

41

3

Netherlands

1340

0

-36

4

Germany

1224

0

38

5

Italy

1215

-1

29

6

England

1101

1

-26

7

Croatia

1087

2

-14

8

Switzerland

1060

7

162

9

USA

1055

2

81

10

France

1049

0

9

11

Portugal

1042

6

162

12

Argentina

1038

-4

-75

13

Russia

1021

-7

-108

14

Czech Republic

1012

4

142

15

Paraguay

981

8

139

16

Serbia

979

-3

63

17

Cameroon

970

12

151

18

Denmark

944

-2

52

19

Mexico

930

5

95

20

Greece

921

-8

-50

 I’ve struck through Croatia and the Czech Republic because neither will be at the World Cup next summer.

 A model based on the old criteria was posted by reader Roy J to MLS Talk. Under this model, Holland would not be seeded, should France, Argentina and Portugal all qualify.

 Rank – Country – Total Points
01 – Brazil – 59.6
02 – Germany – 58.6
03 – Italy – 56.8
04 – Spain – 55.9
05 – England – 51.7
06 – France – 48.2
07 – Argentina – 48.1
08 – Portugal – 46.2
09 – Netherlands – 43.2
10 – Mexico – 38.1
11 – Ukraine – 36.7
12 – USA – 34.9
13 – Switzerland – 31.8
14 – Paraguay – 30.1
15 – Ghana – 28.3
16 – Russia – 26.8

 In the end, I believe some combination of these criteria will be employed. FIFA certainly went through great lengths to fix the problems with the World Rankings, following Germany 2006, but abandoning historic performance could end up creating a lack of balance within groups next summer.