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Friday, July 12, 2013

2014 FIFA World Cup seeding: No official announcement from FIFA

It's amazing what some members of the media will publish or tweet.

On Sunday, I was alerted by Fredrik  of something Vito De Palma (ESPN journalist) wrote on Twitter.

7 Jul
Temas cabezas de serie: FIFA hara una tabla promediando los ultimos 3 Mundiales y 3 aƱos de ranking. Colombia con suerte estara en 3ra urna


Seeding: FIFA will use the average of the last 3 World Cups and the last 3 years of ranking. With luck, Colombia will be in the 3rd pot.

This means FIFA would revert to the seeding formula used for the 2002 World Cup and they will seed the whole field (something they have never done before).

When asked for the source of his claims, Mr. De Palma provided this official PDF document (Brazil 2014 regulations in Spanish, see the document in English), pointing to article 18 on page 24. Those are the regulations regarding seeding for the preliminary draw (based on the FIFA ranking). The final draw is covered in article 31, page 40 - the usual text about the FIFA Organising Committee forming groups by seeding and drawing lots whilst taking sports and geographic factors into consideration, as far as possible. Nothing about the seeding system.

I can't quite understand how Mr. De Palma can tweet unverified facts to more than 80000 followers.

Looking to double-check, I've search on the internet more about seeding in the Spanish-language press and I've found another gem on at least 5 websites. According the articles on RCNRadio,, ViveDeporte, StudioFutbol and Comutricolor, the top 5 teams in the September 2013 FIFA ranking will be seeded for the final draw. These articles were publish a day or two after FIFA announced the seeding system for the African play-offs (the top 5 African teams involved in the play-offs will be seeded according the to September 2013 FIFA ranking). Sport journalism at its best!

As CNN's Tancredi Palmeri said, FIFA will make a decision regarding the seeding in the following months.

About me:

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


  1. If FIFA was an economy it would have crashed and burned with all the speculation because of the uncertainty. I can't believe that no one has successfully forced them to make decisions up front about these sort of things. Maybe we can see if we can get Snowden and Wikileaks involved?

    1. Raoul, they did the right thing by announcing the seeding for the play-offs.

      Let's hope they will announce the final seeding before all the teams are known.

      And let's remember this comment :)

  2. You should see what the Bosnian press has been writing about rankings, now that we have something to talk about ;)

    I try, but fail mostly, to explain it to them, but it is incredible... Sports journalists, with all due respect, would have been proper journalists, but couldn't quite make it, clearly...

    1. What do they say? Please, elaborate.

    2. "How come Croatia is in top10?!"
      80% of comments and debates about the FIFA ranking in the "Slovenia->Macedonia" region. :D
      If I remember correctly, that was Vedad first or second comment on this site too. ;)

    3. Good one Vedad :)

      I second Lorric - please elaborate.


      Actually, Vedad's first 2 comments were about Bosnia's ranking. See here.

    4. Well, from what I've gathered, it's the usual stuff, haven't noticed anything new. They don't understand you lose pts too every month, they don't understand results from a longer time period are taken into account and not just the latest form, they don't understand the rankings are based on results and not on..."feeling", so if a lower ranked team wins it's a "proof the last month's ranking was incorrect".

      But, now you've reminded me of something original by the Croatian journalists. A bit off-topic, but a real gem. Last year Croatia led the UEFA club coefficient ranking AFTER THE QUALIFYING ROUNDS (before the clubs from the biggest countries even really started), but all the news sites had an article about Croatia being the most successful league that year and predicted earning several spots in the Champions League if we continue this way.

    5. Ha ha ha. I remember Croatia holding a brief lead in the one year coefficient. But that's an eye roller... :)

      Don't these people do any research at all?

    6. Sometimes they do. They visit the football message boards and e.g. make articles out of copied foreign news links the forum users post. Just yesterday a guy found an interview an Argentinian goalkeeper playing in Croatia gave to an Argentinian newspaper and, voila, a couple of minutes later there's an "article" (3 sentences) on every Croatian news site. Happens too regularly to be an accident.

    7. Sorry, didn't see this thread got activity :=)

      Well the usual stuff, they come visit this site (without acknowledgement I might add, for which I baretd a few website, like or, in the case of the UEFA coefficient, and then make up bombastic headlines - like in the case of the above mentioned site, that Bosnia will be in the top pot for the next EURO (because the site shows the current state, not what will happen). So when I try to explain to them that Greece will play 3 times at home and twice against Liechtenstein, and that it is far fetched to imagine that they will drop 6 points, I get accused of lack of patriotism :) NB of course Bosnia MIGHT be in the top pot (if they keep the current system which seems unlikely I gather), but only of Croatia continue to play as they did against Scotland ;)

      Concerning the Croatia ranking, I didn't really see any comments on that recently, I did a bit about Serbia (some gloating there), but I do stand with my comments that in many cases, like Croatia, the FIFA ranking is unrealistic, it is unrealistic in case of Bosnia for crying out loud! Bosnia, if we qualify, which now seems likely, but still not sure, will go to their first ever big tournament, and being 13th in the world is not realistic unless you did... Apropo MV's comments, the Croatian media is far more interested in the Bosnian team than the Bosnian media in the Croatian ;)

      But if we do go to the playoffs, fat chance it will do us, as we might again NOT be seeded...

    8. Funny example, just one of many (thanks google translate!)

      I quote - The top 9 European teams from the FIFA RANKINGS will be seeded for the next EURO... O tempora, o mores :=) I mean, you're supposed to be a journalist, type in a few words in google, go to Wikipedia, ask a friend who cares, do SOMETHING! ;)

      Ah well... Like I said, sports journalist... ;)

    9. grrrrrr.... i'm a sports journalist ;).

      (although only concerning athletics, and only as a freelancer, with a fulltime job next to it :))

      But you're right, statistics and rankings isn't what a sports journalist likes to study (except for me).

    10. @vedad

      You "berate" the journalists and then make the same mistake they make. Bosnia is too high because they've never been to a major competition? "Never" doesn't matter, only last two tournaments count, and Bosnia has practically qualified for the next one.
      Same goes for Colombia.

      Your "apropo" - haha. Yes, that's very logical. Especially when you take into consideration that one of three constitutive nations of B&H are Croats. ;)


      Ignore us ex-Yugoslavs. :D
      Our comments concern our region and here, since the Internet Age, sport journalists are people who failed at other jobs, like other types of journalism.

  3. @Jeroen - really MV is correct, it is a completely different picture here, really no insult intended... An example of the quality of TV football commentators for example in Bosnia - Spanish Liga, I believe it was Valencia vs Celta Vigo (maybe!) and the commentator tells us that CAMBIO is supposed to come on... A few minutes later, there is another substitution and he asks himself how many players named CAMBIO play in Valencia ;) etc etc there are many others...

    @MV I'm sorry, are you putting quotes over things that you believe are not grammatically correct? Then check your dictionary mate, I only have typos, stemming from my use of a mobile phone keyboard ;)

    I do believe that FIFA ranking is not realistic, and still believe so concerning even Bosnia (although not complaining) and qualification to a major tournament should be rewarded in some way, and concerning Colombia, that is ridiculous... But hey, such is the system...

    Concerning Croats in Bosnia, you mean like myself? ;) Or if my name confuses you,
    how about the two guys I go to every BH Fanaticos match, Davor and Dario? Not everyone is a Herzegovinian arse ;) I support Croatia as well of course, but I am tired of trying to explain that I am not malignant in any way towards anyone, I just state my opinions, and get attacked by some Croatian fascists even on this website... Ah well, used to that, showed them before where they belong ;)

    Apologies to everyone not ex-yugoslav here ;)

    1. I found your statement funny, not any typo/bad grammar.

      Of course qualifying to major tournaments should mean something, I was saying it doesn't matter Bosnia NEVER qualified (or Colombia/WC '94). Only the last 4 years matter.

      I don't understand half of the rest. Herzegovinian arse? Don't insinuate, speak openly.

      I'm a fascist? Quote me where I said anything negative about Bosnia. Yes, you state your opinions, that Croatia is some sort of evil, preying neighbour, stealing Bosnian kids (while at the same the whole Bosnian press is campaigning for Halilovic (born and raised in Croatia) to play for Bosnia), and if someone responds to that he's a Croatian fascist?

  4. I don't understan this "With luck, Colombia will be in the 3rd pot."

    All qualified south american teams, which are not seeded, will be in pot 3. Therefore Colombia will be either in pot 1 (if seeded) or pot 3 (if not seeded). It has nothing to do with luck.

    Besides that, I don't see any problem in the fact that Colombia is seeded.

    1. That's why I will revisit this issue when FIFA announced the seeding system. I'm sure Vito de Palma is wrong.

    2. have you ever tried to calculate the 2002-system?

    3. For this WC, not yet. I might take a look as we get near November.

  5. vedadpasic and MV, please don't start the war again for whatever reason :). 1nd if you'd do it, think how silly it would eventually be in history if the FIFA ranking caused war.