Tuesday, December 1, 2009
World Cup 2010 Seeding
The news the last few weeks after all 32 teams have qualified is how will FIFA manipulate the seeding for it's own benefit.
The formula in 2006 was taking the last two World Cups, with the more recent one double the value, and the last 3 years FIFA year-end rankings. This prove to be very fair as the 8 seeds were Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Spain, with USA just missing out. Amazingly if Denmark had qualified, they would have been seeded ahead of Argentina because Denmark made the quarters in 1998 and the 2nd round in 2002. Argentina didn't make the 2nd round in 2002.
Making the quarterfinals and beyond of a World Cup puts a country in a good position to be seeded in the next tournament.
I have complied a spreadsheet using the exact same formula for South Africa 2010.
I believe this is very convenient for FIFA as 2006's formula gives them the 8 seeds they want, I would think. The host South Africa, 6 former World Champions (Argentina, Brazil, Italy, England, France, Germany) and the European Champions Spain.
So FIFA would luck out and get brownie points for being consistent and having the big teams seeded. Proving to the media that they did not manipulate anything.
I would also say that FIFA lucks out again because there are exactly 8 European teams remaining. (Portugal, Holland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark, Serbia, Switzerland and Greece). Thus there is no controversy like in 2006 of putting a team (Serbia) in a special pot or anything. The remaining European teams go into Pot 2.
Of the remaining 16 teams, 5 are African, 5 are Asian (I'll make New Zealand Asian), 3 are South American and 3 are North American. FIFA is lucky again because 5 and 3 make 8 so it's easy to geographically make 2 pots of 8.
But the question everyone is asking is... which 3 go with which 5? Because the Asian Confederation is by far the weakest, whichever Group of 3 goes with the Asians would feel very unlucky. Rankings wise, the 3 CONCACAFs are stronger with powerhouses USA and Mexico, consistant World Cup participants. So they should go with the Africans.
Another thing to look at is Brazil and Argentina cannot play a fellow South American. So if the 3 South Americans were to be Grouped with the 5 Africans than and African team MUST be in Brazil and Argentina's group. FIFA tends to like giving Brazil easy draws and with the tournament in Africa, perhaps FIFA wants the Africans to do well... and you do well by avoiding Brazil. Another reason CONCACAF should go with Africa.
So I believe CONCACAF/Africa will be Pot 3 and South America/Asian will be in Group 4. This ensures Brazil gets an Asian team and easier road, which FIFA likes.
Here is my somewhat radical suggestion, I would only have 3 pots. Pots 1 and 2 would be the same as above with Pot 3 being all 16 remaining non-European teams. The 16 teams would simply be drawn left to right while avoiding countries of the same confederation. So using Brazil again, they could get an Asian and an African, an Asian and a CONCACAF or and African and a CONCACAF, like Nigeria and USA. This would make it more exciting I think and no one would be able to complain that seeding wasn't fair cause they're all in the same bowl.
I made a mock draw using my system and random.org and got the following
Group A: South Africa, Holland, USA, Uruguay
Group B: Argentina, Denmark, North Korea, Cameroon
Group C: Germany, Switzerland, Chile, New Zealand
Group D: Brazil, Portugal, Japan, Honduras
Group E: Spain, Slovenia, Ghana, South Korea
Group F: France, Slovakia, Cote D'Ivoire, Mexico
Group G: Italy, Greece, Australia, Algeria
Group H: England, Serbia, Paraguay, Nigeria
What would be your format?