Commentary

World Cup draw: FIFA rankings take on new importance

FIFA's organizing committee for competitions has announced plans for the World Cup 2018 draw in Moscow on Dec. 1.

The new procedure will divide the 32  teams entirely into four pots based on their ranking in the October FIFA rankings (after the final qualifying matches) and not primarily based on geography as was done in recent competitions.



2018 format. Russia and the top seven teams in the FIFA rankings will be placed into Pot 1, the next eight in Pot 2, the next eight after that in Pot 3 and the eight remaining ranked teams in Pot 4.

2014 format. The teams in Pot 1 were World Cup 2014 host Brazil and the top seven teams in the November 2015 rankings -- similar to 2018 except the rankings took into account November results. After that, the teams were divided into a pot of the remaining European teams, a pot with African teams and the remaining South American teams and a pot of Concacaf and Asian teams.

Russia is so bad that it is currently 64th in the rankings released in September. The USA is 28th, which would put it in the fourth pot if every team ahead of it qualified for the World Cup.

But the USA would more likely be placed in the third pot if it qualified. Of the 27 teams ahead of it, four would be eliminated from the World Cup if current form held and seven teams would be headed to playoffs in November as it stands now -- like the USA.

The USA was drawn in the proverbial Group of Death in 2014 with Germany, the top seed and eventual champion, Portugal and Ghana. The new format wouldn't stop the USA from facing a pair like Germany and Portugal, but it would increase the USA's chances of facing a lesser foe, at least on paper, an Asian team.

Geography will come in play in the 2018 draw as follows -- no European team can be drawn with more than one other European team and no other team can be drawn with another team from its own confederation.

What that will create will be some complex maneuvering in the placement of teams at the draw event, which will require some fast thinking from the organizers and quick explanations from commentators.

Teams will be pushed down the line to avoid being placed with another team from its own confederation or -- and this will be the confusing part -- to keep an undrawn team in its pot from being placed with another team from its own confederation.

Current FIFA Rankings:
1 (Q) Germany
2 (Q) Brazil
3 (P) Portugal
4 (P) Argentina
5 (Q) Belgium
6 (Q) Poland
7 (Q) Switzerland
8 (Q) France
9 (O) Chile
10 (Q) Colombia
11 (Q) Spain
12 (Q) Peru
13 (O) Wales
14 (Q) Mexico
15 (Q) England
16 (Q) Uruguay
17 (P) Italy
18 (Q) Croatia
19 (P) Slovakia
20 (P) Northern Ireland
21 (Q) Costa Rica
22 (P) Iceland
23 (P) Sweden
24 (O) Ukraine
25 (Q) Iran
26 (O) Denmark
27 (O) Turkey
28 (P) USA
29 (O) Netherlands
30 (Q) Egypt
31 (Q) Tunisia
32 (Q) Serbia
----------------------
36 (P) Bosnia & Herzegovina
37 (P) Montenegro
40 (Q) Japan
44 (Q) Nigeria
49 (Q) Burkina Faso
50 (P) Australia
51 (Q) South Korea
53 (Q) Saudi Arabia
54 (Q) Ivory Coast
64 (Q) Russia
75 (P) Syria
Note:
(Q)=currently qualified.
(P)=currently headed to playoff.
(E)=currently eliminated.
Teams already qualified in bold.

4 comments about "World Cup draw: FIFA rankings take on new importance".
  1. ROBERT BOND, September 15, 2017 at 9:37 a.m.

    would be funny if Argentina does not qualify from Conmebol-does FiFyFoFum put them in anyways?

  2. ROBERT BOND, September 15, 2017 at 9:39 a.m.

    ditto Chile-glad to see DFB on top after our B team won Confeds....

  3. Linda Gohl, September 15, 2017 at 3:29 p.m.

    A bit confused here. What doe 'O' indicate and what is the difference between 'Q' and bold?

  4. Kevin Brunton replied, September 16, 2017 at 1:03 p.m.

    Purely guessing here, but bold means they've already clinched qualifying. Q means they are currently in a qualifying position (but not clinched). O means they are currently out because they are not in a qualifying position, but they have not yet been eliminated. I based this on the fact that Chile with an 'O' is currently in 6th and would not qualify.

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