Friday, December 6, 2013

World Cup Draw Day!

Today is the day that the 32 qualifying nations will see who they'll face in the 4-team, round-robin group stage of next summer's World Cup.

Depending on your allegiances, today can either feel like an undefeated college basketball's Selection Sunday, or a District 12 teenager's Reaping Day.

Regardless, today is a great day to be a soccer fan. It's the much-anticipated, often-simulated, superstar-populated World Cup 2014 Draw.

As with everything that Sepp Blatter (FIFA President and known snake) touches, this is complicated. There are wheels within wheels.

How it works

Despite the fact that FIFA is a ridiculously corrupt entity, the strange machinations of the draw have been laid out with good intention: to ensure the greatest possible geographical diversity of each group.

In a nutshell, there are 32 teams waiting to be placed into 8 groups. Right now, they are in 4 "pots" according to various rules. Pot 1 houses the top 8 teams in the world. Pot 2 holds all of the teams from Africa and South America. Pot 3 holds the Asian and North American teams, and Pot 4 holds the European teams.

The Pots

Pot 1: Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland
Pot 2: Chile, Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon
Pot 3: USA, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, South Korea, Iran, Japan, Australia
Pot 4: Russia, Portugal, Netherlands, Italy, Greece, France, England, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Because nine teams from Europe made the tournament and only seven did from Africa and South America, Pot 4 has 9 teams and Pot 2 only has 7. So, right before the draw, they'll pick one team at random from Pot 4 and place it in Pot 2. Then, they'll start the draw.

With me so far? Good. Now it gets complicated.

Brazil, as the hosts, will be put in Group A (the first of the 8 groups that will play a round-robin format when the tournament begins in July). Then the seven other teams from Pot 1 will be put into the top slot in each of the remaining Groups B-H.

Remember, though, that FIFA is trying to keep maximum geographical diversity between the teams in the groups. So after Pot 1 has been emptied, the four South American teams that were in Pot 1 (Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay) will be put into a super-secret highly mysterious pot called "Pot X."

Yes, while it sounds like something the kid at the frat house next door might try to sell you, it's actually a way to make sure that there aren't three European teams in one group.

So, they'll pull one team from Pot X. That team will AUTOMATICALLY receive the European team that was placed from Pot 4 into Pot 2.

I like examples. Let's do one so it's easier.


They pull out England from Pot 4. England now goes into Pot 2.

They draw the 8 teams and put them into the top slots of Groups A through H.

They put the 4 top South American teams into the mystery-shrouded Pot X.

They pull out Brazil from Pot X.

Since Brazil is in Group A (as the hosts), England now goes into Brazil's group on the second line.

The rest of the draw proceeds as normal, with Pots 2, 3, and 4 emptying sequentially, and at random, into the 8 groups.

As they say in the Hunger Games, "May the odds be ever in your favor."

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