As a possible punishment by FIFA for the “Thierry Henry Hand Fiasco”, FIFA has decided France is not one of the teams to be seeded. This means “Les Bleus” could face strong opposition in the first round from teams like Spain or Brazil.
South Africa, the host nation, is in Group-A as the first seeded team. The list of the remaining 7 seeded teams include: Brazil, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina and England.
Although France were runners up in the last World Cup, and by default should be automatically seeded, many are speculating this is FIFA’s pay-back for the qualifying game outcome against Ireland. FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke says France is not feeling the wrath of FIFA, but instead the change in rules is purely based on facts and fairness. The new ranking rules go off the world rankings for October and do not include past world cup performance.
“It was purely sporting criteria. There was never, never, a question of the France-Ireland game in the discussion,” Valcke said.
On Friday, organizers will choose 8 groups from 4 pots to keep the tournament balanced and challenging for each team. The draw on Friday will also make sure that South Africa won’t compete against another African team in the group stages. Some worry that the hosts may not successfully get out of the first round, hindering their chances of success in the first World Cup held in Africa. Overall, FIFA decided it wanted to reward recent play more than past performances in the World Cup, hence its reliance on the latest ranking results.
“It is to recognize their qualifying campaign,” Valcke said. “Holland had a great qualifying campaign (and) Spain is the first team having won all their matches.”
Stay Tuned for Up-to-date information on the draw this friday!