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Friday, October 16, 2009

2010 World Cup seeding: Portugal or France?

First of all, I assume FIFA will use the same seeding formula as in 2006 (see Wikipedia) and both Portugal and France will qualify.

What does Portugal need in order to be seeded?

Looking at the December 2008 FIFA ranking, the order of the three teams tied for 11th place is France, Czech Republic, Portugal. However, looking at the actual values (confirmed by FIFA), the order should be Czech Republic (1007.4), Portugal (1007.07), France (1006.87). That's the order I use for seeding. So the first question is: which country gets more points (24) for the December 2008 ranking?

If France gets the 24 points, Portugal needs 5 qualified teams between it and France in the November 2009 FIFA Ranking. With only 4 teams, Portugal and France will be tied and I don't know the official tie-breaking criteria. France has a better World Cup performance (23.3) than Portugal (22.3).

If Portugal gets the 24 points, it will only need 3 teams qualified between it and France in the November 2009 FIFA Ranking. With only 2 teams, they will be tied.

In order to maximize its chances, Portugal needs to get Ukraine (highest ranked among the unseeded teams) in the play-off and win both matches, with France getting two points against Slovenia (lowest ranked) and qualifying on away goals.

More on this on Monday.

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Christian, husband, father x 3, programmer, Romanian. Started the blog in March 2007. Quit in April 2018. You can find me on LinkedIn.


  1. Fascinating! In the case that Portugal gets 3 teams qualified between it and France, then in your two approaches, France is seeded in the first approach, and Portugal is seeded in the second approach! It would seem that should this case arise, and FIFA chooses one of the approaches, then the team that does not get seeded would point to this situation and loudly claim that the other approach should be used!

    Plus, there could be a conspiracy theory: Should this case arise, then FIFA could deliberately chose which of these two teams to seed with a last minute decision on how to interpret the situation. Amazing!

  2. Looking back at the last two World Cup seedings, there were five cases where two teams had identical FIFA Ranking points on the FIFA monthly Rankings webpage. Interesting to see how these were handled by FIFA (as shown on Wikipedia with footnotes back to the original FIFA Final Draw documents):

    For the 2006 WC, there were three cases:

    (1) Dec. 2003: Portugal (listed first) and Costa Rica both ranked 17th -- for seeding, Portugal got 21 points and Costa Rica got 20 points.

    (2) Dec. 2003: Paraguay (listed first) and Korea Republic both ranked 22nd -- for seeding, Paraguay got 17 points and Korea Republic got 16 points.

    (3) Dec. 2003: Côte d'Ivoire (listed first) and Trinidad and Tobago both ranked 70th -- here Côte d'Ivoire only got 5 points, while Trinidad and Tobago got 6 points.

    How did FIFA decide that T&T should get more points -- it couldn’t be that the first team listed gets more points -- did they look at “unrounded” Ranking Points?

    For the 2002 WC, there were two cases:

    (1) Dec. 2000: Denmark and Sweden both show 625 Ranking Points, but Denmark is shown as the 22nd Rank and Sweden the 23rd Rank(!). However, when it came to seeding, both were treated as the 22nd rank, but instead of one team receiving 18 seed points and one team receiving 17 points, both received 17.5 points.

    (2) Nov. 2001: Belgium and USA both show 666 Ranking Points, but Belgium is shown as the 20th Rank and USA the 21st Rank. However, when it came to seeding, both were treated as the 20th rank, but instead of one team receiving 18 seed points and one team receiving 17 points, again both received 17.5 points.

    This raises some questions. Why would two teams with identical “rounded” Ranking Points have different Ranks in 2000 and 2001, but have identical Ranks in 2003 (and 2008)? Why would FIFA “split” the seed allocation points for these teams in WC2002 (when Ranks appear to be based on unrounded Ranking Points) but allocate different seeding points in WC2006 (when Ranks appear to be based on rounded Ranking Points)?

  3. Thanks for the info, Dorian! I didn't bother to check the 2002 seeding table, although I did write that article on Wikipedia :)

    I'll look into it later today or on Wednesday.

  4. I calculate that France has a World Cup performance co-efficient of 22.3, and Portugal has 23.3. The FIFA technical report from 2002 has Portugal 21st and France 28th, and obviously 4th and 2nd respectively in 2006.

  5. @Andrew

    22.3 for France?

    8 points for 2002
    31 points for 2006

    (8 + 31 * 2) / 3 = 70 / 3 = 23.3

    For Portugal

    9 points for 2002
    29 points for 2006

    (9 + 29 * 2) / 3 = 67 / 3 = 22.3

    Is there something wrong in my calculations?

  6. I think that our inconsistency arises from our rankings of France and Portugal for the 2002 WC. I'm not sure what rankings are used, but going by FIFA's technical report from the tournament, Portugal were ranked 21st and France 28th:

    see p 111 of this document

    SO my calculations are as follows:

    France: 5 points for 2002, 31 for 2006.

    (5+31*2)/3 = 67/3 = 22.3

    Portugal: 12 points for 2002, 29 for 2006.

    (12+29*2)/3 = 70/3 = 23.3

    Again, I don't know what ranking FIFA will use for seeding purposes - it's always interesting trying to rank 16 teams that all fell in the group stage, but based on the ones in the technical report, I think the above values are correct.

  7. Hello again, Andrew!

    Please see this Wikipedia article:

    2006 FIFA World Cup seeding

    and this official FIFA document (also found on that Wikipedia article):

    Seeding of national teams.