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Friday, November 20, 2009

2010 World Cup seeding update (20 November 2009)

I had to publish an update (see the original post) because FIFA published this little bit of information:

"Final Draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ – note to media
The detailed criteria to determine the seeded teams for the Final Draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ will be confirmed at the next meeting of the Organising Committee for the FIFA World Cup™ in Cape Town on 2 December 2009 (and announced at a press conference following the meeting).

If the criteria to determine the seeded teams were to include, as in the past, the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, then it would be the October 2009 edition of this ranking which would be considered, and this for sporting reasons. In fact, using the November 2009 edition would create an uneven situation, specifically for the European Zone, where the play-offs involving the eight best runners-up led to an imbalance in the number of qualification matches played between the teams."

Would you believe it... it was fair to use the November 2005 edition for the 2006 World Cup seeding, but it's not fair now. Go figure...

On to the seeding table.

This is not official - it's based on the 2006 FIFA World Cup seeding formula and draw setup (CAF + CONMEBOL in one pot, AFC + CONCACAF + OFC in the other, title holders in Group F).

Algeria/Slovenia replace Egypt/Russia.

With the October 2009 ranking being used, it's all very neat - Argentina 50, France 49, Portugal 47 (using rounded totals).

Rank in the seeding table - Country - Total - Performance points - FIFA Ranking Points

 1 Brazil         59.7 29.3 30.3
2 Germany 59.3 30.3 29.0
3 Italy 56.7 27.3 29.3
4 Spain 56.0 25.3 30.7
5 England 51.3 26.3 25.0
6 Argentina 49.7 21.0 28.7
7 France 48.7 23.3 25.3
8 Portugal 47.3 22.3 25.0
9 Netherlands 43.0 14.7 28.3
10 Mexico 37.7 19.3 18.3
11 USA 34.7 13.7 21.0
12 Switzerland 31.7 15.3 16.3
13 Paraguay 30.3 11.7 18.7
14 Ghana 24.7 13.3 11.3
15 Korea Republic 23.7 15.7 8.0
16 Cameroon 23.7 3.0 20.7
17 Japan 23.3 13.3 10.0
18 Australia 23.3 11.3 12.0
19 Greece 21.3 0.0 21.3
20 Côte d'Ivoire 20.3 6.0 14.3
21 Serbia 20.3 5.3 15.0
22 Denmark 19.7 7.7 12.0
23 Nigeria 19.7 2.7 17.0
24 Uruguay 18.3 2.7 15.7
25 Chile 13.0 0.0 13.0
26 Honduras 7.7 0.0 7.7
27 Slovakia 7.0 0.0 7.0
28 Slovenia 6.7 2.7 4.0
29 South Africa 6.3 3.0 3.3
30 Algeria 6.3 0.0 6.3
31 New Zealand 2.3 0.0 2.3
32 Korea DPR 1.0 0.0 1.0

Pot 1 (seeded teams): Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Spain
Pot 2 (rest of UEFA): Denmark, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland
Pot 3 (AFC + OFC + CONCACAF): Australia, Honduras, Japan, Korea DPR, Korea Republic, Mexico, New Zealand, USA
Pot 4 (CAF + rest of CONMEBOL): Algeria, Cameroon, Chile, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Paraguay, Uruguay

Possible draw (using

Group A: South Africa, Serbia, USA, Uruguay
Group B: Argentina, Slovakia, Australia, Ghana
Group C: England, Portugal, Mexico, Paraguay
Group D: Brazil, Netherlands, Honduras, Cameroon
Group E: France, Greece, Korea Republic, Nigeria
Group F: Italy, Denmark, Japan, Chile
Group G: Spain, Slovenia, New Zealand, Algeria
Group H: Germany, Switzerland, Korea DPR, Côte d'Ivoire


  1. So now they have two weeks to figure out a way that France can avoid Portugal, Holland & Serbia :)

    No, seriously though - I don't believe there is proof of blatant favouritism, but one can certainly conclude that FIFA aren't trying to come across as objective of late, and meanwhile France keep coming across as the big winners at every hurdle.

  2. Edgar,

    Using November numbers would change something?

  3. P.S.: I mean not only in 2010, but 2006 as well!

  4. Thanks Edgar. Oh my god, FIFA has done it again.

    We have to ask the question why FIFA want the October ranking to be counted and not the November ranking.
    I believe in 2 answers:
    1) FIFA care for Argentina.
    2) If they have used the November ranking they would have to choose caring for Argentina and use the 2006formula as a tool for it OR not care for Argentina and use a better seeding formula.

    My conclusions: FIFA will NOT use the 2006formula. 2 possible methods is: A) Same performance points as in 2006 combined with the FIFA October ranking. B) Only the FIFA october ranking.
    In case A France will be seeded, but not Portugal. In case B Netherlands will be seeded, but neither France or Portugal.
    In case B both Argentina and England is saved by FIFA by using not using the November ranking.

  5. My point is that, with the October ranking FIFA can both care for Argentina and use a better seeding formula.

    Apparently FIFA don´t like Portugal.

  6. @Sancho

    No, there would have been no change in 2006. And there's no change in 2010 (if FIFA use the same formula).


    I'm not good at politics :)

  7. @Edgar
    ahh i understand, neither am i. :)
    But don´t you agree that one can suspect that FIFA will change the seeding formula this time?
    Why whould they change the month when, like you said to Sancho, it gives the same results with the 2006formula.
    Portugal is out! Now the question is France or Netherlands. PerformancePoints+ranking OR just ranking.
    Can Henrys handball be Holland luck now?

  8. They've made slight tweaks in 2002 (going from 60% - 40% to 50% - 50%) and 2006 (going from last three WC finals to last two).

    Of course, they might use the FIFA ranking. Who knows?

  9. I guess that FIFA wants this things, in order of importance:

    Argentina seeded
    France not seeded
    Portugal not seeded

    Argentina will be seeded just because of the power of Grondona, he doesn't have any problems saying to local journalists things like "I don't care about the seeding system as long as Argentina is seeded"

    FIFA will try to avoid France as seeded because of the handball, they don't want to be signaled one more time as France-lovers
    And it will be preferable to avoid Portugal as seeded too, in order to have equal treatment for all play off qualified teams.

    In order to accomplish it they will have to change the seeding formula (that will include october ranking almost sure)
    In fact, taking just october ranking for seeding would be enough, but they will not take such a big change at the last minute.

    Long story short:

    South Africa

    Note: Bolding added for irony...

  10. I think this little change opens up the whole FIFA ranking can of worms - after all every confederation plays a different number of world cup qualifiers, continental qualifiers, and contintental championships (every 2 years for CONCACAF and CAF, 4 years for everyone else.

    Imagine teams only ever played within their own confederation. You can use the weight of different games and each confederation weight to find out how much the average game is worth to each confederation. I assume each team plays 38 games over a 4 year period and that each representative team is knocked out in the quarterfinals of their confederation's championship.

    Normalising a UEFA game to 1 point I get
    AFC 0.82
    UEFA 1.00
    CONCACAF 0.83
    CONMEBOL 0.91
    OFC 0.58
    CAF 0.83

    As you can see the CONMEBOL true weighting is much lower than 98 and OFC is much lower than .85.

    On another note, I must mention that these continental weights in themselves don't make sense. Yes, UEFA is the stronger confederation but the value of a result is based on ranking already. By being in CONCACAF/AFC/CAF/OFC you are penalised 15% of a match value, but you are penalised again because the vast majority of games that have any value (qualifiers) are played against teams that have low rank (because they are penalised 15% of their match values).

    Anyway, enough rant. Love your work Edgar.

  11. I think the anonymus guy just scored off a bicicle kick from midfield.

    October ranking:
    1. Brazil, 1632
    2. Spain, 1629
    3. Netherlands, 1340
    4. Italy, 1215
    5. Germany, 1161
    6. Argentina, 1103
    7. England, 1101

    Add the hosts, and you have all the seeded teams! It's just perfect.

    Maybe they will use a gigantical formula just to get to this result, but I'm conviced these are the seeded teams.

  12. Please, FIFA, split AFC!

  13. The FIFA announcement is interesting and telling.

    Because the 2006 Seeding Formula produces the same top 7 teams when using either the October 16th rankings and the November 20th rankings, FIFA must be considering a different approach for 2010. In fact, it sounds like one (or a few) final proposals are already on the table.

    What happened in the November 20th Rankings that FIFA didn't like?

    • Nigeria moving up 10 places?
    • Uruguay moving up 6 places?
    • Portugal moving up 5 places?
    • France moving up 2 places?
    • Argentina and England both moving down 2 places and out of the Top 7?

    What could FIFA be up to?

  14. Sancho and the previous Anon contribution have it spot on.

    FIFA cannot back France (anymore than they have this week!) so will sacrifice them to POT 2 - it will take the heat off at the draw by doing this.

    Portugal have qualified in the same manner as France (+Slovenia and Greece) so therefore cannot be seen to be favoured so will go to POT 2.

    Argentina as a seeded team is 'good marketing' re Messi and will also mean 5 UEFA seeds and therefore the perfect 8 UEFA teams in POT 2.

    Netherlands WILL BE seeded, and to be honest given that they won their group easily, not many people will argue as currently the are probably a better team than France and Portugal.

    FIFA looking out for themselves which isn't that suprising!!

    I can't wait to see what POOL A will give us, remember no host team has failed to get out of the group... FIFA will want South Africa to stay in as long as possible.

    Roll on Dec 4th !!!

  15. Looking at this article i think we may see some of the toughest groups in the world cup ever.

    England could have a group like this:

    Cameroon/Ivory Coast

    That is SUPER TOUGH!

  16. I think the last few comments are spot on in terms of seeded teams and also regarding tough groups. IMHO conditions are such that there could be several groups of death. Come on Dec 4 !

  17. If FIFA really care about football they will work out a method of seeding that everyone trusts, is objective and can be worked out mathematically by any fan. Also, if they don't use ONLY the FIFA ranking, they're basically saying that it is not worth the paper it is printed on each month.

  18. @Liam
    > England
    > France/Portugal/Holland
    > Mexico
    > Cameroon/Ivory Coast
    > That is SUPER TOUGH!

    No, that's not tough, winning the World Cup, that's super tough! Look at Euro 2008 (Netherlands v France/Italy/Romania). That group was tough, but winning the cup was tougher!

  19. I mean seriously why no respect for some of the sides from Africa. I know my opinion counts for nothing, but Ivory Coast and/or Cameroon certainly deserve to be Pot 2 teams, at the VERY minimum pot 3 teams. Cameroon is rank 11 in FIFA and Ivory Coast 16.

    If FIFA makes all teams from Africa automatic Pot 4 teams, it further shows they want no African team to advance and at the same time, creating the potential for a few groups of death. As someone pointed out earlier the potential for a seeded team + a team like portugal + a team like Ivory Coast = exit for at least one team that can cause some damage in the knock-out stages.

  20. The number of the pot doesn't have any meaning. In fact, you could put every seeded team at pot 3, and things will come out the same (no way for those 8 teams meeting at first stage).

    Joining South American and African teams in a single pot would be, in fact, a respect sign for African teams.
    Paraguay and Uruguay are historically strong teams. It's not an easy task for neither Argentina or Brazil to score against them, let alone winning. Those matches happen once a year on average.
    They are more or less on par with Ivory Coast; and Chile could be one step down, on par with the other 4 African teams.

    This configuration brings a last pot with six really weak teams plus Mexico and USA. But wait, Mexico and USA are the epitome of unstability. They could give a strong first stage fight, or either fail misserably, you never know.

    Last but ont least, the only way to avoid a couple of death groups is hand pointing the whole arrange.


    - Bicycle Kicker (from midfield)

  21. 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:

    POT 1
    S.Africa, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, England, Argentina, France

    POT 2
    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

  22. Some posts have little love for Holland.

    The Netherlands have been a top 10 rank team for years; they are consistently a strong side; and they generally play with class (unlike France or Portugal with quick falls, handballs and head-butts).

    It is about time that Holland is a top seed. I can't recall the last time a they weren't drawn into a "group of death" - caused by the fact that they should have been a top seed.


  23. As i posted earlier, FIFA probably did not like 3 things with the November-rankings:
    1)Portugal moving up to 5:th
    2)Argentina dropping down to 8:th
    3)England dropping down to 9:th
    That´s why FIFA want the October-ranking to be the one that matters!
    Does anyone believe this action from FIFA would have happened if Argentina and England had won(or maybe drawed) their matches against Spain and Brazil 14/11 and earned the points needed to stay ahead of France and Porugal?

    After the given fact by FIFA that the October-ranking is what counts we can almost be sure of 7 sedded teams:
    South Africa
    1) Which seeding method will be used??
    2) Depending on question 1: FRANCE or NETHERLANDS?

  24. Holland should be seeded instead of France

    And Denmark should be seeded instead of Germany.

    FIFA need to take those other "coefficient" factors into account like which team qualified ahead of others.

    But with Platini on the inside they will ensure France will be seeded with an easy passage into the Round16. It will be a sad day for football if Platini ever became head of FIFA.

  25. Henrik - totally agree with you. It seems England would have ben wise to have arranged a friendly with San Marino rather than Brazil!

    Anyway being a bit niave and ignoring the politics, as a neutral fan (i.e. my nation didnt qualify) I would like to see CONCACAF + CONMEBOL + OC together to give the most diverse geographic spread. After all, do CONCACAF nations not now compete in the American equivalent of the European Championships.

    So leaving aside the European nations and the issue of who will be seeded this would give a reasonably tidy result:

    USA, Mexico, Honduras, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand.

    Ghana, Cameroon, Algeria, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, North Korea, South Korea, Japan

    Restrictions can be put in place to prevent AUS & NZ being drawn against AFC nations, just like restrictions will prevent CONMEBOL nations being drawn in Brazil & Argentina's group and the CAF nations from being drawn in in South Africa's group.

    Personally, I agree that Netherlands should be seeded or indeed it makes a mockery of the FIFA rankings. Of Argentina, England and France, I'd say France are marginally weaker at the moment hence their qualification from the play-offs

    And, Denmark who didnt qualify for 2006 World Cup seeded ahead of the nation who were 3rd in that tournament and qualified unbeaten ahead of Russia with a total of 26 points from 30?


  26. @Anonymus (about the draw)

    First, in 2006 FIFA needed to do the Special Pot because there were 9 non-seeded European teams, and by the rules only 8 could be in pot 2.

    Second, FIFA wants to spread the nations because it's a World Cup, and they want the maximum of interconfederations matches in the Group Stage as possible.

    Finally, FIFA wants the draw to be simple, although always respecting the point above. Your suggestion is more complicated, than just grouping the continents.

    @Anonymus (about procedure)

    The geographic rule is well known and practiced for ages. What FIFA does is, after all teams have qualified, decide who's going to be seeded. Usually, they put the hosts, the Big-4 (BRA, ARG, GER, ITA), and some hot teams that have shown dominant football between the cups (as Mexico, seeded in 2006; Spain, in 2002 and 2010; Romenia and Holland, in 1998).


    FIFA is mad with France (with Henry's handball, actually). France is in the top-7 in November rankings, but not in October. That's why October will count.


    Australia is a Asian country now. Just get used to it. It's the same case as Israel, Guinae, Suriname and Turkey. Geography in football works differently.

  27. seeding-wise, it is hard to disregard that France won in 1998 and made it to the finals again in 2006. Only Brazil did as well as the french in that time period. However, the way the french qualified might backfire, I agree.
    Now, can you imagine France falling into pot 2, only to draw South Africa?!!

  28. I posted about this the other day. Basically, here's the outcome of the possible changes FIFA could do (like Henrik was discussing):

    Only use 1 past World Cup:

    Portugal in, England out.

    Only use October FIFA rankings, and no World Cups:

    Netherlands in, France out.

    Only use October FIFA rankings, but still use past 2 World Cups:

    No change.

    Only use October FIFA rankings and only the last World Cup:

    Portugal in, England out.

    And I know everyone is skeptical that FIFA will try to manipulate the seeds, but like Edgar said it would've been the same in 2006 either way. Same thing for the 2002 changes. I don't think the people who decide this stuff have been following it obsessively like we have.

  29. @Anonymus (about France in Group A)

    That's exactly what will be at stake in Dec. 2nd. If France goes to pot 2, there will be 12,5% to be in Group A with the hosts, and actually rewarding them with the "punishment".

    But, in the other hand, with 87,5% to face somebody else, FIFA might decide to take a chance.

    After all, there is this feeling that something MUST be done to give the football world that cheating is wrong and it's punished accordingly.

    I still think Henry may be suspended.


    I believe FIFA has people thinking about this just as we do. Then, they will pass the possible options to whom really decide.

    The note points in the direction that they realize there is a problem concerning France. It's true that using October's rankings changes nothing, if they decide to change nothing. But it also allows FIFA to change the seeded teams, if they decide this is the best way to go.

    They have just left an open door.

  30. if you have to go to a playoff you should not have opportunity to be rewarded with a pot 1 seeding (although Spain did it in 2006 and Germany in 2002). FIFA could always come up with that rule for this year and I think it would make sense/be acceptable to most people. except for the fact they wouldn't be consistent from WC to WC, and next time possibly revert.

  31. @scaryice:

    "Only use 1 past World Cup:
    Portugal in, England out."

    Why would that be? England are one of the seven 2006 quarter-finalists to qualify for 2010 (Ukraine have missed out). Surely you'd use those 7 (Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Argentina, England, Brazil) plus South Africa?

  32. Apart from the seeding itself...will there be a distinct advantage being the top seed in Group C, D or E where 2 of the 3 Group matches are at sea level in either Cape Town, Port Elizabeth or Durban ??


  33. Regardless of the issues with France, the seeding of South Africa generates a disequilibrium throughout the competition. Obviously, those in pots 2, 3 and 4 who will end up drawing South Africa will have a huge advantage, and whoever draws B1 will be almost certain to make it to the quarter finals.
    That said, I cherish the world cup for the opportunity to see games like Brazil-France, Argentina-England, Spain-Portugal etc.

  34. In 2002, with both Japan and Korea seeded, it was worse, but it worked well.

  35. Great work, Edgar.

    After replicating Edgar's results and analyzing a number of different scenarios, I have to agree with Henrik that it now almost certainly comes to down to a choice between France and the Netherlands for the remaining top seed.

    While there are literally an infinite number of ways FIFA can adjust the seeding formula, I sensitivity tested what I thought to be 3 of the most likely variables to be changed:

    (A) Weighting between FIFA rankings and previous World Cup performance (1:1 as in 2006, 2:1, or 1:2)
    (B) Weighting of the October 2009 versus Dec 2008 versus Dec 2007 rankings (1:1:1 as in 2006, 3:2:1, or 1:0:0)
    (C) Weighting of 2006 versus 2002 World Cup performance (2:1 as in 2006, or 1:1)

    3 choices for A and B, and 2 choices for C resulted in a total of 18 scenario results, as follows:

    Argentina: seeded in 18 of 18 scenarios
    England: 18 of 18
    France: 16 of 18
    Netherlands: 2 of 18
    Portugal: 0 of 18

    I thought the argument that France and Portugal will get equal treatment and both go into Pot 2 with Netherlands emerging as a top seed to be appealing, particularly given not only recent events, but also the fact that Netherlands felt hard done by in 2006. FIFA don't need to discard past performance in World Cups to get that result, they only need to go with something like a 2:1 weighting under A, combined with a 1:0:0 weighting under B.

    Now, I here you ask, what if the November 2009 rankings were used instead?

    Argentina: 6 of 18
    England: 17 of 18
    France: 13 of 18
    Netherlands: 1 of 18
    Portugal: 17 of 18

    Make your own mind up.

    @ Desmond

    Putting altitude aside, notwithstanding the fact that he 2006 Finalists came from Group E (Italy) and Group G (France) I'd argue there is a distinct advantage in being in one of the earlier groups. The total number of rest days for teams in Group A/B between their first game and the Final is 15, whereas it's 14 for C/D, 13 for E/F and only 12 for G/H. Assuming South Africa get put into slot A1, I'm crossing my fingers that my team (England) get put into B2. Not only will that hopefully result in a slightly easier Second Round match, but it also means that game will be played on Saturday or Sunday (2nd Round games for Groups E-H are on either a Monday or Tuesday).

  36. England for B1, I meant to say...

  37. @paz

    I meant keeping the same formula with the past 3 years of FIFA rankings, but only using the last World Cup in addition to that instead of 2006 + 2002 like the current formula would.

  38. @ John

    If I got it correctly, if the formula is

    (Ranking Oct. '09)*2 + (World Cup)

    , it simply doesn't matter if they consider the last two finals? In example, even if FIFA adopts (World Cup) as

    [(World Cup 2006)*2 + World Cup 2002)]/3

    , Holland would be in and France out?

  39. @Sancho

    If they use the formula you describe [2/3rds of the score based on October 2009 FIFA ranking....a BIG if] , Netherlands will definitely be seeded.

    As to which country won't be seeded, the answer is 'almost certainly' France. You'll note I only mentioned 2 scenarios using that formula (one with a 2006:2002 weighting of 2:1, and another using 1:1), and in both of those cases, France is out. It's also true if that weighting is 3:1, 4:1 or even 6:1. But if we push it just a little further and consider only the 2006 World Cup (i.e., they ignore 2002 performance), France appear to be in with England out (Edgar, please tell me I've got this wrong!!). I don't think that's likely.

    Again assuming that 2/3rds of the score is based on the October 2009 FIFA ranking, there doesn't appear to be any difference if they go back to using three World Cups (2006, 2002 and 1998), i.e., Netherlands and England are in, France are out. This may sound strange given France won the whole thing in 1998, but they did so poorly in 2002 that any inclusion of the 2002 performance in this scenario effectively means they are out.

    So perhaps it comes back to the FIFA announcement about the October 2009 rankings. If you believe like some have stated that it was a conspiracy theory to save Argentina, then I really don't know what the France / Netherlands outcome will be. However, on the surface of things the most drastic and obvious outcome of this change is that it completely dooms Portugal (look back at the scenario results). And if you believe that means FIFA has a motive to appear 'fair' by not letting the playoff teams get an automatic seed, then I say Netherlands are in. Of course, the most fair thing to do would be to publish all the rules well in advance, but then that wouldn't make it as interesting, would it?

  40. The most fair thing to do would be to publish all the rules well in advance. FIFA doesn't exist to make things interesting.


    FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 draw

  41. The problem is that there are four teams that FIFA thinks they MUST be seeded: BRA, ITA, ARG and GER. They really don't care about the other four.

    In order to protect this "Big-4", they always wait to define the seeding formula. And they define one formula, because they don't want to directly decide who's going to be seeded, besides the Big-4.

    The difference in 2010 is France. More precisely, Henry's handball. If France is thrown out of Pot 1, the sole reason is Henry's handball. If it wasn't this little detail, there wouldn't be any doubt on who were the seeded teams.

  42. I, unfortunately, agree with the Pot 3 and Pot 4 being CONCACAF+AFC+OFC AND COMNEBOL+CAF.

    The average point totals for each region minus the presumed teams in Pot A are:
    CONCACAF = 26.7
    COMNEBOL = 20.53
    CAF = 18.94
    AFC+OFC = 14.72

    It makes the most sense to balance the Pots as much as possible. USA and Mexico are obviously the huge losers as they are the two highest non-euro teams not to be in Pot A and would have no chance of playing minnows Korea DPR and New Zealand. Granted they can still play lowly ranked Chile and Algeria though I feel like their rankings are a misrepresentation of their playing ability.

    Personally I feel that FIFA should still apply the regions in the draw but adjust the system. Pot A should be 1-8, Pot B should be 9-16, and so on. No more than 2 Euro teams in a group and no more than 1 team per group from the other regions. If the team is drawn that would go over that limit you simply throw it back in the back. It doesn't seem very procedural but frankly FIFA is not very procedural as we've seen with recent events.

    The idea of a group consisting of South Africa, Korea DPR, Algeria, and Slovenia is laughable. Likewise, a group of Germany, Portugal, Mexico, and Paraguay is down right scary.

    Possible groups under my system:

    Korea DPR

    Ivory Coast

    New Zealand

    Korea Republic
    South Africa





    No groups of death. Nothing too scary.

  43. --> jagroves

    There cannot be such a weak group as you wrote. RSA is African team so RSA from 4th pot can get only a South American team (Uruguay for example). So anyway this gropu will have some strength. But of course, RSA&Slovenia&N.Korea is weak combination (from other side of view - it is small posibility that draw will give the most weak combination).


  44. "The idea of a group consisting of South Africa, Korea DPR, Algeria, and Slovenia..."

    Besides the fact that Algeria cannot face South Africa (I made the same mistake a couple of weeks ago), this would be the Group of Dead!

    Since I believe FIFA will group AFC/OFC/CONMEBOL and CAF/CONCACAF, a "Group of Dead" would be:

    South Africa
    North Korea/New Zealand

  45. @ John, you're wrong. If they use 2:1 ratio for 2006:2002 WCups how can Holland be seeded over France? It's common sense - France did better in both W Cups and whatever weight used France would be better when it comes to the last two W Cups.

    According to the formula they used in 2006, when you calculate it out you would get something like this:
    France - W. Cups 2nd in '06 gives 31 pts. and 28th in '02 gives 8 pts. (2*31+8)/3=23.3 pts. France ranking AMONG QUALIFIED teams at the end of the 3 years (OCT09, DEC08, DEC07)(using a criteria of 32 pts. for 1st and 1 pt for 32nd) France averages 25.7 pts. France total = 23.3+25.7= 49pts.

    Netherlands 11th in 2006 gives 22 pts and didn't qualify in 2002 gives 0 pts. (22*2+0)/3=14.7
    Average pts for ranking is 28.3.
    Netherlands total =28.3+14.7=43pts.

    As you can see France is higher if 2006 formula is used.

    Netherlands failure to qualify for 2002 was one of the reasons why Mexico was seeded in 2006 as well as sub-par performances by France and Argentina (Mexico seeded ahead of these and Italy because of Italy's ranking).

    Come to think of it France would be seeded ahead of Portugal as well if you look at W Cups criteria.

    Anyway, here's the formula they used in 2006 for the seedings that I got from

  46. I checked and Portugal would be ahead of the Netherlands but behind France.

  47. Which means that the seeded teams would be (not in order) Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Argentina, England and South Africa.

  48. @764dak

    You are mistaken, sir.

    Your first post tried to replicate what Edgar kindly already did for us, which is what happens if they use the same 2006 seeding formula for 2010 purposes (albeit with an error for France - note they came 2nd in 2006, not 1st). This 2006 seeding formula was based on an equal weighting between FIFA rankings and past World Cup performance.

    What I did was go on to explore variations in the seeding formula. And while France will still be seeded under many possible situations, one of the conclusions is that if FIFA put more weighting on the FIFA rankings and less on previous World Cup performance(at least a 2:1 weighting, to be precise), with the FIFA ranking based solely on the OCTOBER 2009 RANKING, then Netherlands will be seeded, NO MATTER WHAT they look at in terms of previous World Cups.

    The only way Portugal could make it through as a seed is if they base the World Cup performance score on just the 2006 World Cup. But France would also be seeded in that case with England and Netherlands being left out......sorry, but I just don't think it's going to happen., which makes me conclude that Portugal are definitely out. France could still make it in at the expense of Netherlands, but my guess right now is that they won't.

    I earlier noted that under this 2:1 ranking:World Cup criteria that France and Netherlands could make it through at the expense of England if they ignore the poor 2002 French World Cup performance (relative to England)....but for the 2006 seeding they included 2 past World Cups, and in 2002 they included 3 World Cups, so reverting to 1 World Cup seems unlikely to me.

  49. @764dak

    correction: I see now you correctly credited France with 31pts for 2006 (but your ranking numbers for France are slightly off versus Edgars' numbers).

    Your last post includes 9 seeded teams. See Edgar's post at the top for the 7 teams (+ South Africa) that would make it under the 2006 formula.....but as you will read through the other posts, there are very strong reasons to suspect FIFA will NOT be using the same seeding formula for 2010. Clear as mud?

  50. @John

    No, you're not wrong. France would be in, with England out.

    764dak's figures are a bit different because he has France above Portugal in December 2008.

  51. FIFA will try just to "improve" the formula for defining the seeding teams.

    The question that the FIFA's Edgars are trying to answer seems to be:

    What would be the most simple way to change the 2006 formula, using Oct.2009 rankings, kicking France out of Pot 1?

    In exemple, what would be the result, if the formula were:

    {[(Oct.'09*4)+(Dec.'08*2)+(Dec.'07)]/7}*2 + [(WC'06*2)+(WC'02)]/3

    That's three rankings and 2 WC, just exactly it was in 2006; but it would be thousand of people saying that it's more just because the latest results have more weight then the earlier ones.

    If the result is "France out", it's possible that FIFA uses it.

    P.S.: Edgar, just out of curiosity, are you from Romania?

  52. @Sancho

    That almost kicks France out, but not quite. If you increase your 4:2:1 to 5:2:1, then you have struck gold (or maybe that's orange!), but could we really call that 'simple'?

    I still think the simplest way to kick France out and get Netherlands in would be to use 1:0:0, i.e., one FIFA ranking only, and leave the World Cup performance piece the same. Very simple, and given the FIFA rankings incorporate several years' worth of games anyway (four I think), wouldn't that seem fair to most people?

  53. @ John

    Well, it's already proved that it won't be easy to take France out without damaging the seeding system to death. That said, FIFA has two exits:

    a) let France in Pot 1, besides the handball, saving the system and the formula (perhaps, changing it a bit, without modifying the result); or

    b) let France out, using only the ranking to define the seeded teams.

    Either way, I would like to see Henry punished. At least, he should be out of the group stage.

    P.S.: Why they never used solely the ranking before? That's why...

    a) Nov.'05 - CZE, NED (in); ITA, ENG (out).
    b) Oct.'05 - CZE, NED, USA (in); ITA, ENG, SPA (out).

    a) Nov.'01 - POR, COL (in); SPA, GER (out).
    b) Out.'01 - POR (out); GER (in).

  54. Wow... that would be a sweet draw for the USA. Here's hoping it comes to pass!!!

  55. Hello all,

    I would use procedure like this one:

    WC Draw Ranking should be calculated depending on 3 last World Cups, 98-06.

    Points will be given as follows:

    #1 8 points
    #2 6 points
    #3 5 points
    #4 4 points
    #5-8 3 points
    #9-16 2 points
    #17-32 1 point

    WC 1998's weight is 16.667 %, WC 2002's 33.333 % and WC 2006's 50 %.

    This all gives us following ranking:

    1 Brazil 5,17
    2 Italy 5,17
    3 Germany 5,00
    4 France 4,67
    5 England 2,83
    6 Portugal 2,33
    7 Argentina 2,33
    8 Spain 2,17
    9 Mexico 2,00
    10 South Korea 2,00
    11 USA 1,67
    12 Holland 1,67
    13 Paraguay 1,50
    14 Japan 1,33
    15 Denmark 1,17
    16 Ghana 1,00
    17 Switzerland 1,00
    18 Australia 1,00
    19 Serbia 0,83
    20 Nigeria 0,67
    21 South Africa 0,50
    22 Cameroon 0,50
    23 Côte d'Ivoire 0,50
    24 Chile 0,33
    25 Slovenia 0,33
    26 Uruguay 0,33
    27 Slovakia 0,00
    28 Greece 0,00
    29 North Korea 0,00
    30 Algeria 0,00
    31 New Zealand 0,00
    32 Honduras 0,00

    Pot 1: 1-7 and South Africa as host
    Pot 2: 8-15
    Pot 3: 16-20 and 22-24
    Pot 4: 25-32

    Possible draw:

    A: South Africa,Mexico,Serbia,North Korea
    B: Germany,USA,Ghana,Slovakia
    C: Portugal,Spain,Chile,Algeria
    D: France,Paraguay,Australia,Slovenia
    E: Argentina,Japan,Côte d'Ivoire,Greece
    F: England,South Korea,Nigeria,Honduras
    G: Italy,Denmark,Cameroon,Uruguay
    H: Brazil,Holland,Switzerland,New Zealand

  56. @ John
    Clear as mud, I made a mistake when listing the seeded teams Portugal shouldn't be in there. Yeah, I guess FIFA won't use the same formula for 2010.

    @ Ari Kaleva
    Interesting post.

  57. When was the last time the losing finalists were not seeded in the next edition?

  58. I don`t know what it`s up with avoiding groups of death. Groups of Death are what we are looking for at group stages, as they bring fresh air to group phase and everyone has something to debate about.

  59. @ Edgar, Czechoslovakia didn't qualify for 1966, Hungary didn't qualify for 1950, Netherlands didn't qualify for 1982.

  60. @ Edgar, Besides the losing finalists that didn't qualify, I don't think that there are any that weren't seeded in the next edition.

  61. That's what I wanted to say - it would be the first time when last edition's losing finalists are not seeded.

    Who knows what FIFA will do in the end...

  62. The non-Big-4 runners-up were:

    a) CZE - '34/'62;
    b) HUN - '38/'54;
    c) SWE - '58;
    d) NED - '74/'78;
    e) FRA - 2006.

    *CZE was seeded in 1938;
    *SWE didn't play in 1962;
    *NED was seeded in 1978 (there were 5 seeded teams and 4 groups);
    * There were WC without seeded teams.

    It's true that France would be the first non-seeded runner-up, if it happened. But there aren't many examples before (the last being 1978!).

    After all, BRA, ARG, ITA and GER will be seeded no matter their previous WC record.

  63. @ Edgar

    That's nice. I've started to look at some old posts in your website and found understandable texts besides written in an odd language. I thought it could be Romanian. It's easy to forget those latins that were at the other side of the "Iron Curtain".

    My wife and I travelled close to Romania in our honeymoon, but unfortunately the country was not in the tour. It's a place I want to visit though.

    I think I could learn some basic Romanian in a short period of time; with some effort I can read it just now.

    Best wishes,
    Paulo Roberto

  64. To seed Portugal and/or France would be the biggest mistake since they are qualified due to play-off. In both cases Denmark and Serbia deserve seedings more since they top the groups with the firstmentioned in question.

    If FIFA seeds either 2 they might as well give them a 3 goal-advance in each game, so they have an actual chance to win the trophy

  65. I have to disagree with last post(anonymous). It is not realistic to seed teams with the preliminaries as the criteria. In europe´s case that would mean 10 matches that counts. And with that logic Paraguay and Chile would be more qualified than Argentina from Conmebol! I think the FIFA ranking is a good criteria. And so i think the last World Cup is! Both together is good anough for me. Many people would like to see Netherlands seeeded, of course. But i´m not sure FIFA want to count the FIFA ranking only. Because they might have more problem next time if they do. (the ranking can change more than any other formula)
    Of course Henrys handball is not good. But the seeeding should be based on statistics, not emotions. Still i think France´s chance of getting seeded is bigger than that they do not.
    I even think a possibility is that FIFA want France to do well in the World Cup after all that have happened. That might be the FIFA-logic. Don´t be surprised

  66. I don't think FIFA will consider FIFA rankings only either and nor should they....the nations that consistently 'step up' at the World Cup no matter how they did in qualifying or other games should be rewarded in some way for that......Germany comes to mind....some might remember they got to the World Cup Final in 2002 after only qualifying for that World Cup via a PLAYOFF against Ukraine!! (and yes, Germany were seeded for the final draw)

    However, as I mentioned in an earlier post, even if FIFA continues to include past World Cup performance in the seeding formula, it IS possible for the Netherlands to be seeded at the expense of the French. FIFA simply need to adjust the seeding formula to put more weighting on the FIFA ranking 'score' relative to the past World Cup performance 'score'. The following would work just fine:

    [Oct '09 rank]*2 + { [WC'06)*2 + (WC'02)*1] / 3 }

    Given Mr. Blatter is showing no remorse over the way in which the Irish were dumped out of the tournament, I suppose we shouldn't hold our breath that the French will find themselves in Pot 2 for Friday's draw, even if that is what most of us are hoping for......but we will find out tomorrow!


    Looks like the seeding is simply on the October rankings...

    South Africa
    The Netherlands

  68. Yep, 100% based on October rankings.

    Looks like your site's only going to get busier in the future, Edgar! :o)

    Glad they put Africa and S.America together. Far less complicated for the draw.

  69. "Glad they put Africa and S.America together. Far less complicated for the draw."

    How come?

    Wouldn't Africa and N.America in one pot be equally uncomplicated?

  70. No, that way there would be two pots with special conditions for the draw - the one with the African teams and the one with South American teams. This way there's only one.