The 203 teams vying for 2012 FIFA World Cup qualification will find out their draw on Saturday. As host, Brazil does not need to qualify, leaving 31 other places to fill.
AP - The 2014 World Cup begins to take shape on Saturday when FIFA hosts the qualifying draw, laying out each nation’s path to try to secure a spot in the tournament.
It will be the first major World Cup-related event in Brazil since 2007, when the South American nation was awarded the competition for the first time in 64 years.
As host, Brazil is the only nation which won’t have to qualify, but 203 other teams will have to fight for the remaining 31 spots in qualifiers that will run through November 2013.
Defending World Cup champion Spain will find out in which of the nine Europeans groups it will play. The draw will also allocate the groups for Asia, Africa, Oceania and the North, Central America and Caribbean regions.
South America will not be included in the draw because the continent’s nine teams will be placed in a single group. They will play each other twice, home and away, with the top four finishers securing a World Cup spot. The fifth-placed team will advance to an intercontinental playoff.
The 2014 World Cup will be played from June 12-July 13, and the complete match schedule will be announced in October. The schedule was expected to be made public this week, but delays with Brazil’s stadium construction, which led to indecision on which of the 12 host cities will host the opener, have apparently forced organizers to delay the announcement.
The preliminary draw will be preceded by festivities and attractions staged by local artists, including singer Ivete Sangalo.
Saturday’s draw will also take place amid protests from some Brazilians who have criticized the World Cup. Rights groups say construction work for the football competition and the 2016 Rio Olympics have come at a cost to some local residents who will benefit very little from the events. Most complaints come from those who are being evicted from their homes so infrastructure projects can be put in place.
Representatives of poor communities are planning a march to promote the “People’s Cup” on Saturday, with the protest taking place near the draw venue.
“While the $20 million party for choosing the qualifying groups for the 2014 World Cup is happening, thousands of the city’s residents are being removed from their homes in preparation for the tournament, street vendors are prevented from working and the vast majority of the population will not have enough money to pay for tickets to the World Cup,” the representatives said in a statement Friday.
There is also a protest planned against Brazilian football federation president Ricardo Teixeira, who recently was cleared by FIFA of bribery allegations but has been constantly attacked by local media for alleged irregularities running Brazilian football.
The draw comes a few days after FIFA President Sepp Blatter denied suggestions he was a dictator and asked for time to clear up corruption allegations involving football’s scandal-ridden governing body. FIFA last week banned former presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam over allegations he tried to bribe Caribbean football leaders in an effort to unseat Blatter.
There will be 166 countries participating in Saturday’s draw, and their pot allocation will be based on the latest FIFA world rankings. FIFA said that it will not draw together Azerbaijan and Armenia nor Russia and Georgia because of political conflicts which could lead to fan violence during qualifying matches.
The qualifiers began on June 15 and will end Nov. 19, 2013, after 824 matches.
The total of 203 teams vying for a World Cup spot surpasses the 200 who participated four years ago. The only associations not to have signed up to compete this time around are Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Guam and Mauritania.
Seven nations have qualified for each of the last six World Cups - Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, South Korean, Spain and the United States. Germany has been the most successful team in World Cup qualifiers so far, with only two losses in 74 matches.
Date created : 2011-07-29