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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2010 World Cup seeding: Based on feeling

Just read this in the Guardian:

The Fifa general secretary, Jérôme Valcke said: "In the past the seedings have been determined by a mixture of world rankings and performances in past World Cups but this time the feeling was the October rankings most closely represented the best teams in the tournament."

Had the current rankings been used then England would have missed out and France been seeded, but Valcke is adamant this was the fairest way to conduct the draw. "We made the decision last month that the October rankings would be used because they were fairer – countries who had been involved in the play-offs would have had an unfair advantage because they would have played more games and that affects their rankings," he said.

"This is not a case of wanting Holland to be seeded instead of France, just that the feeling was the October seedings represented the best teams."

What will happen if a less glamorous/marketable team makes it to the top 7 in the October 2013 FIFA ranking? I guess they will change the seeding criteria because it would hurt their feeling(s).

I hope some journalist will ask Sepp Blatter/Jérôme Valcke these three questions and get some clear answers:

1. Will the October 2013 FIFA ranking be used to seed the teams for the 2014 FIFA World Cup final draw?
2. Will the October 2013 FIFA ranking be used to seed the European runners-up in the UEFA play-offs?
3. Will this be stipulated in the 2014 FIFA World Cup regulations?


  1. Long-time reader, first-time commenter here.

    I certainly feel they should be more consistent and transparent about their seeding methods; ideally they will announce the system to be used before the qualifiers even begin. This method leaves them open to accusations of conspiracy and favouritism; imagine if the Premier League only announced in April how many teams would be relegated, or how the Champions League teams were to be chosen?

  2. Complete joke. FIFA must list all their seeding methods before qualifying starts next time. That's the only fair decision.

  3. IMHO... no surprises here. FIFA will never commit beforehand to anything. It is all about business, marketing and making money for themselves and a whole bunch of other parties with vested interests. Therefore, they will always "massage" the seedings and pots to achieve that end.

  4. Surprised you posted this. You're turning your site into a propaganda tool against FIFA? ;-) I for one trust that this kind of thing will not happen again and that the lesson is being learned.

  5. raoul -- you're joking, right?

  6. Probably a dumb question but if Japan were to draw Brazil might they still draw two european teams from pot 4?

  7. Being of Irish descent I can't feel too sorry that France didn't receive a group seed, even thought I did rooted for them to win in 1998. I feel justice was done here(if not for the Irish team}. Bring on the draw. Go USA!

  8. Dear Edgar,
    I love your site. I know you have desentours but keep up the good work. Belive me when I say it is very much appreaseated.

  9. Anonymous: no, that can't happen. Pot 4 only has 8 teams, so they will all be drawn into different groups. This means that South Africa, Brazil and Argentina will only have one European team in their groups.

    In 2006, there were 9 unseeded European teams, so one of them (Serbia & Montenegro) got put into a 'special pot' and were drawn against one of the non-European seeds (which turned out to be Argentina, who stuffed them 6-0, thanks in part to a young sub named Messi).

  10. Raoul is joking, of course. :)

    He had this article in mind:

    My site is a propaganda tool for FIFA

  11. > Raoul is joking, of course. :)

    Edgar, I was joking about the propoganda tool, but my comment about me being surprised that you post things like this is serious. It is of course up to you what you post, but I wanted to register my surprise. As I have described in various posts, I believe the decisions that have been made are good ones and move us forward (indeed not far enough), and have been made objectively. I don't think playing with the word "feeling" is helping matters. This is something, in my opinion, that journalists are putting in the mouths of these FIFA people, and I would bet that the quotes they are coming up with are made out of context and maybe even completely wrong. These things happen daily in journalism and they sell newspapers, and a lot more newspapers than if they just printed that FIFA made a good decision. It is always easier to ridicule and find faults, than give credit for the good things. As is stated in many places, even on your site, FIFA made the decisions already two months ago and let's focus on that, and let's focus on moving forward now that they have offered the olive branch.

  12. Raoul, your surprise has been registered. :)
    There has been some consistency in the seeding method for the last 3 World Cups. Further more, the performance in the last two or three tournaments has been part of the formula for the last 5 World Cups. To suddenly drop it out of the seeding formula seems a bit strange.
    If FIFA will use the October 2013 ranking to seed the teams for the 2014 World Cup final draw... hats off to them.

  13. > To suddenly drop it out of the seeding
    > formula seems a bit strange.
    > If FIFA will use the October 2013
    > ranking to seed the teams for the 2014
    > World Cup final draw... hats off to
    > them.

    Exactly, to drop it was a surprise, but exactly the point I'm trying to make. If we focus on this fact, and perhaps your site has had some effect on their decision, including all the commotion that we have all generated, then we are succeeding. So I'm saying, let's continue in this manner, by giving positive feedback on how they can improve further, not by falling back and complaining about words that may or may not be true. Now that they have seemingly made the right decision and are willing to change, let's now focus on getting FIFA to move even further and announce these decisions BEFORE the tournament. Let's all get behind that rather than hitting them where it hurts with more negative press, because all you're doing then is getting them more aggravated, in which case they'll be less and less willing to make sacrifices. If we all get behind the big stone, it will move, eventually. You see how the "video evidence" subject is getting more and more attention, and even if they again reject, the fact that it is again being discussed is positive. Just don't give up and go in the wrong direction would be my advice.

    Don't underestimate the influential role of a website like yours. You've seen already how journalists are starting to refer, link and comment. That is just one step removed from talking directly to FIFA, but leave that to the journalists.

  14. Don't worry Raoul. My site won't turn into an anti-FIFA propaganda tool :) I'll keep on computing the rankings as usual.
    Thank you for your nice words, but I believe you're overestimating the influence of my website. I don't think I'm getting visits from people working for FIFA.

  15. Ahh, Sepp, So that's where you get your FIFA Rankings from before my committee calculates them. Keep up the propaganda, Edgar !

  16. Non, Michel, this is an ANTI-propaganda site

  17. So ranking has become even more important.

    I have a question: Which ranking do you prefer personally:

    The ranking by GDRank or ranking by WINRank on

  18. @Sepp and Michele

    I had a good laugh reading your comments :)


    I like the WinRank - but only a bit more.

  19. Hi Edgar

    And why?
    Or is it just also a feeling?
    Voros McCracken himself seems to prefer the GDRank:
    [The National Team Rating System Explanation
    October 5th, 2009 • 20 Comments]
    "The System Explained
    But why goals? Why not wins and losses? That’s a fair question and the answer is that I think it gives a better estimation of actual team quality than one based strictly on wins, draws and losses. This has been shown pretty conclusively in baseball and other sports and my experience looking at the issue in football/soccer is that it applies here (though maybe not as absolutely) as well. I do include in my ratings an additional rating (calculated by a slightly different system) which takes into account wins, draws and losses (as well as the margin of victory) and you see that rating on the right hand side of the columns. Testing has convinced me that the goals method is slightly more accurate in future predictions when it comes to international football."
    My week opinion at the moment is: Most rankings do it mainly by wins so I would tend to wins also, but it would be more authentic following GDRank.

  20. Yes Stevan - it based on feeling :)
    Some teams may not have a good GD but they get the result they need more often then not.

  21. Hi Edgar! You could make a simulation of the results of the friendly matches fixed up to the WC 2010 and the results of the WC 2010, and make a post with it. Then it would be great to make other simluation of the results of the EURO 2012 qualifyng and even the EURO 2012. Perhaps it`s too much work, but I think that it would be very interesting!


  22. I can do the 2010 WC simulation (plus friendlies). However, for the 2012 EURO I need the qualifying fixtures.

  23. OK, I think it's going to be a really interesting simulation and people will like it a lot!

    I think that after march friendlies it's a good date to begin with this WC 2010 simulation, don't you think so?

    Congratulations for this blog, once again!