Paul Marcuccitti


 
Paul Marcuccitti is a passionate soccer fan from Australia who will share his views about the World Cup in this column.

Mail Paul

Read earlier columns

Who will be seeded at South Africa 2010



    There is still plenty of time to look back at Germany 2006 but why not also have a quick look ahead?

    The Final Draw for South Africa 2010 is less than three and a half years away and before you know it, you'll be settling down to watch it. The wrangling over how many slots each confederation gets will begin soon and, by September of next year, World Cup qualifiers will be underway.

    Unless some unlikely radical changes are made to the competition's organisation, the Final Draw will take place in November or December 2009 and the eight groups that are drawn that evening will each have a seeded team.

    When I completed this exercise four years ago, I produced a set of likely seeds for the 2006 World Cup. The likely seeds still had to qualify for the tournament (except host nation Germany) and I also warned that the whole exercise might be useless because FIFA could decide to change its system for determining who the seeded teams would be.

    Ultimately the top eight teams from the table I made in 2002 all qualified for Germany 2006 and all were seeded (so I have good form on this question). There was a small adjustment made to the formula - instead of including results from the last 3 World Cups in the calculations (which was done for Korea/Japan 2002), only the last 2 were used. This was a good change as results that are 12 years old tell you nothing about a team's current strength. (I would go even further and only use results from the most recent tournament.)

    As I proceed, I will again explain a few things that those of you that have previously followed my columns on this subject would know. If you understand the whole process and you don't want to read the words, you can always just look at the tables.

    The points system that determines the eight teams that are seeded at the head of a group at the finals is based on FIFA's World Rankings (worth 50%) as well as performances at previous World Cups (also 50%).

    Let's start with the 50% earned from previous World Cups because (unless the system is changed again) this is already known. The 2006 World Cup should be worth two thirds of the previous World Cup points with 2002 worth one third.

    The points are (almost) the reverse of each team's finishing position. The World Cup winner receives 32 points, the runner-up gets 31, third place gets 30, etc. Teams are also classified as finishing 5th, 6th, etc if they were quarter-finalists and 9th, 10th, 11th, etc if they were eliminated in the Round of 16. This is done by using a team's overall performance.

[This website has already produced a table with the 2006 classification and you should note that matches decided by penalty shootouts are classified as draws. This is why France, Argentina, England and Switzerland all have zeros in the Loss column.]

    The team that finishes 16th has the worst record of all the teams that reached the second round (this year it was Australia) and it receives 17 points. But there is a change when we get to the 16 teams that missed the knockout phase. Rather than count from 16 points (for 17th) down to 1 (for 32nd), the teams that finished between 17th and 24th (inclusive) each receive 9 points and those that were below 24th get 8 points. There are no points for failing to qualify for the World Cup finals.

    To achieve the correct weighting for previous World Cups, the points for the most recent tournament (2006) are multiplied by 2 and the points from 2002 are not multiplied at all. The overall total is then divided by 3.

    Spain, for example, finished 5th in 2002 and 9th in 2006. So the Spaniards receive 28 points for 2002 and 48 points for 2006 (24 x 2). Add the points together and you get 76. Divide that by 3 and you get 25.33. That 25.33 will be 50% of their points in the FIFA spreadsheet for deciding seeds. The other 50% will come from rankings (which we'll come back to).

    The following table shows each nation that has qualified for either or both of the last two World Cup finals and how many previous World Cup points those teams have.

2002 2006 C Pts Pts x1 C Pts Pts x2 TOT Avg GER 2 31 31 3 30 60 91 30.33 BRA 1 32 32 5 28 56 88 29.33 ITA 15 18 18 1 32 64 82 27.33 ENG 6 27 27 7 26 52 79 26.33 SPA 5 28 28 9 24 48 76 25.33 FRA 28 8 8 2 31 62 70 23.33 POR 21 9 9 4 29 58 67 22.33 ARG 18 9 9 6 27 54 63 21.00 MEX 11 22 22 15 18 36 58 19.33 SWE 13 20 20 14 19 38 58 19.33 ECU 24 9 9 12 21 42 51 17.00 UKR 0 0 0 8 25 50 50 16.67 KOR 4 29 29 17 9 18 47 15.67 SWI 0 0 0 10 23 46 46 15.33 NED 0 0 0 11 22 44 44 14.67 USA 8 25 25 25 8 16 41 13.67 GHA 0 0 0 13 20 40 40 13.33 JPN 9 24 24 28 8 16 40 13.33 PAR 16 17 17 18 9 18 35 11.67 AUS 0 0 0 16 17 34 34 11.33 TUR 3 30 30 0 0 0 30 10.00 CRO 23 9 9 22 9 18 27 9.00 POL 25 8 8 21 9 18 26 8.67 SEN 7 26 26 0 0 0 26 8.67 TUN 29 8 8 24 9 18 26 8.67 CRC 19 9 9 31 8 16 25 8.33 KSA 32 8 8 28 8 16 24 8.00 DEN 10 23 23 0 0 0 23 7.67 IRE 12 21 21 0 0 0 21 7.00 BEL 14 19 19 0 0 0 19 6.33 ANG 0 0 0 23 9 18 18 6.00 CIV 0 0 0 19 9 18 18 6.00 CZE 0 0 0 20 9 18 18 6.00 IRN 0 0 0 25 8 16 16 5.33 SCG 0 0 0 32 8 16 16 5.33 TOG 0 0 0 30 8 16 16 5.33 TRI 0 0 0 27 8 16 16 5.33 CMR 20 9 9 0 0 0 9 3.00 RUS 22 9 9 0 0 0 9 3.00 RSA 17 9 9 0 0 0 9 3.00 CHN 31 8 8 0 0 0 8 2.67 NGR 27 8 8 0 0 0 8 2.67 SLV 30 8 8 0 0 0 8 2.67 URU 26 8 8 0 0 0 8 2.67
NB: C = Classification, Pts = Points and the x 1, and x 2 show the weighting that each World Cup receives. A classification of 0 means that the team did not qualify for the finals in that edition. TOT is the total number of points from the two previous World Cups. Avg is the score after the total has been divided by 3.

    The top six teams in this table were seeded for 2006. The other two seeds were Argentina (8th) and Mexico (=9th).

    Let's move on to FIFA's World Rankings. For Germany 2006, the relevant rankings were December 2003, December 2004 and November 2005. Each year's rankings were given an equal weighting and, for each year, the highest ranked team received 32 points while the lowest ranked received 1.

    I'll use the French as our example this time. They were ranked 2 in 2003 and 2004, and 5 in 2005. So they received 31 points for both 2003 and 2004, and 28 points for 2005. The average of that is 30.00 and that was then added to France's previous World Cups score.

    The 32 teams that qualify are never going to be the 32 highest ranked teams. So, for seeding purposes, FIFA re-ranks the teams that qualify for the finals from 1 to 32. That means that if a team was ranked 8th in a particular year, it would only get 25 points if all higher ranked teams qualified. If the teams ranked 6th and 7th didn't make it, the 8th ranked team would, instead, receive 27 points. That re-ranking procedure will be shown in the following table.

    FIFA has revised its rankings and, last week, its post World Cup rankings were released. One of the changes made to the calculations is that only results from the last four years are used. (Until now, results from the last eight years have been used to rank teams.)

    This is a sensible move and it also means that if a team's results over the next four years are similar to its results from the last four years, its FIFA ranking should be similar as well.

    As the table that determines seeds needs 32 teams, I've selected a group of 32 from the previous World Cups table to look at what may happen in November/December 2009. I've used the top 14 UEFA teams, the top 4 CONMEBOL teams, the top 4 CONCACAF teams and the top 5 AFC teams. I am counting Australia as an AFC team.

    In Africa's case, we have an automatic qualifier - South Africa - so I've selected the top 4 CAF teams plus the host nation. For Africa's last spot, I had to decide between Angola and Côte d'Ivoire because both have 6.00 previous World Cup points. Côte d'Ivoire is the logical choice because its 2006 classification is higher and it also has a better FIFA ranking than Angola.

    The next table has the 32 selected teams and shows what the points from world rankings would be if the current rankings remain unchanged throughout the next three and a half years. (They will change but there will be few earthquakes. Brazil won't suddenly drop to 20 and Saudi Arabia won't make an incredible rise to 10.)

WR ER Pts Brazil 1 1 32.00 Italy 2 2 31.00 Argentina 3 3 30.00 France 4 4 29.00 England 5 5 28.00 Netherlands 6 6 27.00 Spain 7 7 26.00 Portugal 8 8 25.00 Germany 9 9 24.00 Switzerland 13 10 23.00 Ukraine 15 11 22.00 USA 16 12 21.00 Denmark 17 13 20.00 Mexico 18 14 19.00 Paraguay 19 15 18.00 Côte d'Ivoire 20 16 17.00 Sweden 22 17 16.00 Croatia 23 18 15.00 Ghana 25 19 14.00 Turkey 27 20 13.00 Ecuador 28 21 12.00 Poland 30 22 11.00 Tunisia 31 23 10.00 Australia 33 24 9.00 Senegal 35 25 8.00 Costa Rica 45 26 7.00 Iran 47 27 6.00 Japan 49 28 5.00 South Korea 56 29 4.00 Trinidad & Tobago 64 30 3.00 South Africa 72 31 2.00 Saudi Arabia 81 32 1.00
NB: WR = Current FIFA World Ranking and ER = Effective Ranking for the purposes of this table.

    You might be thinking that I'm being a bit cheeky by selecting this clutch of teams as all (except South Africa) need to qualify for the tournament and the allocation of slots to confederations may also change.

    But substituting teams usually makes little difference. When I completed this exercise four years ago, 12 of the 32 selected teams eventually failed to make it to Germany. Removing them from the table and adding 12 different teams did not change the 8 likely seeds.

    Also, if a likely seed fails to qualify, its place will almost certainly fall to the next team in line. This happened in Korea/Japan. The Dutch would have been seeded if they qualified for that tournament (after being semi-finalists in 1998 and quarter-finalists in 1994) but their absence benefited Spain - which would not have been seeded if the Netherlands qualified.

    Now let's finally look at the table which adds the points from previous World Cups and the points from FIFA World Rankings together.

PWC RP TOT * Brazil 29.33 32.00 61.33 * Italy 27.33 31.00 58.33 * England 26.33 28.00 54.33 * Germany 30.33 24.00 54.33 * France 23.33 29.00 52.33 * Spain 25.33 26.00 51.33 * Argentina 21.00 30.00 51.00 Portugal 22.33 25.00 47.33 Netherlands 14.67 27.00 41.67 Ukraine 16.67 22.00 38.67 Mexico 19.33 19.00 38.33 Switzerland 15.33 23.00 38.33 Sweden 19.33 16.00 35.33 USA 13.67 21.00 34.67 Paraguay 11.67 18.00 29.67 Ecuador 17.00 12.00 29.00 Denmark 7.67 20.00 27.67 Ghana 13.33 14.00 27.33 Croatia 9.00 15.00 24.00 Cote d'Ivoire 6.00 17.00 23.00 Turkey 10.00 13.00 23.00 Australia 11.33 9.00 20.33 Poland 8.67 11.00 19.67 South Korea 15.67 4.00 19.67 Tunisia 8.67 10.00 18.67 Japan 13.33 5.00 18.33 Senegal 8.67 8.00 16.67 Costa Rica 8.33 7.00 15.33 Iran 5.33 6.00 11.33 Saudi Arabia 8.00 1.00 9.00 Trinidad & Tob. 5.33 3.00 8.33 * South Africa 3.00 2.00 5.00
NB: PWC = Points from Previous World Cups and RP = Points from FIFA World Rankings. TOT is now the total score for the purpose of deciding seeds.

    The teams that are likely to be seeded for 2010 have an asterisk (*) in front of their names and you might have noticed that there is a curve ball this time - South Africa will be seeded as host nation and that means that at least one of the 2006 seeds will miss out. We didn't have this problem in the recently completed World Cup because the host nation would have been seeded using normal criteria.

    If only one of the 2006 seeds misses out, it's going to be Mexico. There are two reasons why the Mexicans have plummeted: their World Ranking has dropped because FIFA's new rankings system has punished CONCACAF's poor World Cup showing; and even though they reached the round of 16 for the fourth consecutive time, their overall record was only good enough to classify them in 15th place. (They'd still be out of the top 7 if they'd been classified 9th - the highest possible position available to a round of 16 loser - but they'd be a lot closer.)

    With Mexico's fall, the only real threat to the likely seeds is Portugal. The most vulnerable team in the top 7 is Argentina and Portugal has more points from previous World Cups. If Portugal's ranking lifted two places and Argentina's dropped two (from December next year until November 2009), Portugal would displace the Argentines.

[If that happens, I suspect that CONMEBOL will pressure FIFA to retain two South American seeds - and that FIFA will oblige. But that probably isn't worth worrying about now.]

    Spain and France are also a little vulnerable but they're less reliant on high rankings - so I expect that they'll be fine. Note that the Spaniards survived in the top bracket despite missing the quarter-finals. Their perfect record in the group phase helped their classification (9th) and they are also bolstered by a quarter-final appearance four years ago.

    After Portugal, the rest of the pack is miles away. The Dutch are next and their low previous World Cups score is costly. To have any chance of being one of the seeds, the Netherlands would need to keep a high ranking throughout the next four years and hope that two of the eight teams ahead of them fail in their qualifiers.

    But if Brazil, Italy, England, Germany, France, Spain and Argentina all succeed in their World Cup qualifiers, expect those teams to join South Africa in the Final Draw's privileged octet.



 

[HOME]


BACKGROUND
Info on how the World Cup was founded and about the trophy as well.
THE WORLD CUPS
Detailed info on every match in every tournament.
COLUMNISTS
Interesting columns about the past, present and future of the World Cup.
THE NATIONS
Every nation with appearances in the World Cup. Detailed info on every country.
LEGENDS
Player profiles of many of the most influential players in history.
A-Z STORIES
An A-Z collection of strange and different stories in World Cup history.
STATISTICS
A big collection of various statistics and records.
MASCOTS
Every mascot since it was introduced in 1966.
QUIZ
Test your knowledge about the WC. Three different levels. No prizes, just for fun.
TOP 10 RANKINGS
Rankings of lots of stuff. For instance Best Goals, Best Players and Best Matches.
LINKS
Our collection of links to other soccer sites with World Cup connection.
LINK TO
Some banners and buttons for you to link to us if you want.
ABOUT US
A little information on who keeps this site available.
| '30 | '34 | '38 | '50 | '54 | '58 | '62 | '66 | '70 | '74 | '78 | '82 | '86 | '90 | '94 | '98 | '02 | '06 | '10 | '14 |
---
Copyrights © 1998-2014 - This website is created and maintained by Jan Alsos. It is an unofficial website not affiliated or connected in any way to FIFA. All rights reserved.