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FIFA feels heat on Brazil World Cup draw

Blatter confirms midday matches in tropical venues as football's governing body unveils complex new system.

Last updated: 03 Dec 2013 21:04
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Jerome Valcke confers with Joseph Blatter as they announce the World Cup procedure in Brazil [Reuters]

FIFA has announced a bafflingly complex procedure for Friday's draw to decide which teams comprise the eight first-round groups at next year's Brazil World Cup.

Jerome Valcke, general secretary of football's governing body, caused general bewilderment as he tried to explain the workings of the draw.

"It's not easy to understand it the first time," he said.

"It took me some time to be sure I had the right explanation."

Each group will consist of one team from each of four pots with Pot 1 featuring the top seeds: Brazil, the host nation, alongside Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland.

The other pots will be based on geographical criteria so that countries from the same confederations are kept apart.

We are sticking with the kick-off times, they have been decided. There is no change.

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president

Pot 2 will contain the five African teams, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria and Cameroon, plus the non-seeded South American teams Chile and Ecuador and a European team to be moved out of Pot 4 in a pre-draw.

Pot 3 will feature Japan, Iran, South Korea, Australia, United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras while nine European sides, Bosnia, Croatia, England, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and France, will comprise Pot 4.

Valcke revealed that a pre-draw will be held to move one of the nine European teams into Pot 2 where they would then be drawn against one of the four seeded South American teams to preserve the geographical balance of the draw.

To complicate matters further, the four South American seeds would form a temporary Pot X and the three not drawn against the European team in Pot 2 will return to the main draw.

A seeded team's place in the draw will determine how much travelling around the vast hinterland of Brazil, the world's fifth largest country by area, will be involved and may therefore not be so beneficial as in the past.

The seeded team in Group H will have a relatively easy first round schedule with matches in the milder conditions of Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

But the seeds in Group G will play in the intense heat of northeastern cities Fortaleza, Natal, Salvador or Recife.

The team that meet Brazil in the opening game - position A2 in the draw - will face a 3,880-km flight to Manaus in the Amazon for their next match before a 4,508-km flight to Recife for their third game.

Hot kick-offs

Kick-off times could also pose a threat to a team's chances depending on whether they play in the humid north or the chilly south.

From June 12 until June 22 when there are three matches a day - the programme switches to four a day from June 23 to June 26 for the last round of group games - matches are due to start at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm local time which is 1600GMT, 1900GMT and 2200GMT to maximise European television audiences.

However, the early kick-off time has sparked some unease because it will be very hot in the north-east at that time of day.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter had said last month that he could reconsider.

But he said on Tuesday: "We are sticking with the kick-off times, they have been decided. There is no change."

572

Source:
Reuters
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