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FIFA mull over seeding for World Cup draw

LEIPZIG, Germany, Dec 5 (Reuters) - FIFA's World Cup Organising Committee will decide on Tuesday the seedings for the 32 finalists involved in next year's tournament in Germany.

The only thing known for certain is that the hosts will be seeded in slot A1 in the match schedule and play the tournament's opening match in Munich on June 9, Dortmund on June 14 and Berlin on June 20.

Seven other countries will also be placed in the top pool and kept apart in the draw for the first round which takes place in Leipzig's Neue Messe exhibition centre.

Friday's draw will be broadcast live to around 150 countries in the world with an estimated record audience of around 320 million people expected to tune in.

FIFA have not confirmed how the seedings will be decided but hinted that the same method used in 2002 will be used again.

That involved taking the performances from the two previous World Cup finals, combined with an average position based on the FIFA world rankings from the past three years to establish a coefficient for each team.

On that basis, Brazil, Italy, France, Argentina, Spain, Mexico and England could all join Germany in the top group of seeds, with the Netherlands, the United States, Czech Republic, Croatia, South Korea, Japan and Paraguay in the second group.


Ecuador, Switzerland, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Iran, Costa Rica and Portugal are contenders for Pool Three while Ukraine, Serbia & Montenegro, Ivory Coast, Australia, Ghana, Trinidad & Tobago, Togo and Angola -- the lowest ranked side in the competition with a FIFA ranking of 62nd in the world -- making up Pool Four.

The system, though, is a flawed one because the FIFA rankings unfairly reward countries like Mexico and the United States who win most of their matches against weaker regional opposition.

European nations like the Netherlands and Portugal are penalised because, from a far tougher qualifying zone, they have missed out on recent World Cups.

Lobbying for position has already started with the likes of U.S. coach Bruce Arena and Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who won the World Cup with his native Brazil in 2002, saying their teams deserve to be among the top seeds.

The Organising Committee will have the final say although FIFA president Sepp Blatter hinted recently that there could be some surprises in the seedings when he said: 'I think the national teams of Holland and England have reason to be worried. Even Italy might not get a place.'

Friday's draw will be in stark contrast to the one made for the 1974 finals when the World Cup was held in West Germany.

Then, 200 guests were present in Hessian radio's main broadcast studio in Frankfurt to see 16 teams placed in four groups in a short ceremony that lasted about 15 minutes.

On Friday around 3,700 people including 1,000 media will be in the auditorium at the huge trade fair hall which is being transformed into a football stadium for the occasion.

Adidas will be unveiling the official World Cup match ball in a ceremony presented by talkshow host and sports journalist Reinhold Beckmann and assisted by German model Heidi Klum.

Next year's finals begin on June 9 and end on July 9 with the final at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin

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U.S. narrowly misses out on seeding for World Cup

U.S. narrowly misses out on seeding for World Cup

December 6, 2005

LEIPZIG, Germany (Ticker) - The United States' last-place showing in 1998 hurt its 2006 World Cup chances.

The U.S. narrowly missed out on landing one of the eight seeds for next year's soccer world championship in Germany on Tuesday.

Defending champion Brazil, England, Spain, host Germany, Mexico, France, Argentina and Italy received the eight seeds.


Argentina and Italy earned a total of 44 points apiece in the rankings, which are determined by an average of results from the past two World Cups and the FIFA world rankings over the past three years.

Ranked eighth in the world by FIFA, the U.S. finished ninth in the rankings with 43 points. Even though the Americans reached the quarterfinals in the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan - which counted twice as much weight as the results from the 1998 World Cup - the U.S. greatly was hindered by its last-place showing in France.

Also missing out on a seed was the Netherlands, which is ranked third in the world but was damaged by not having qualified for the 2002 Cup. The Dutch finished with 38 points.

Brazil topped the group with the maximum 64 points, followed by England (51), Spain (50), Germany (49), Mexico (47), France (46), and Argentina and Italy.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena likely is seething at seeing Mexico earn a seed instead of his squad, for the Americans beat their arch-rival in the second round of the 2002 World Cup and finished first in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2006 Cup.

The U.S. was placed in Pot 4 with CONCACAF rivals Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago, as well as the four Asian qualifiers, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. The Americans will play one of the seven seeds in Pot 1 besides Mexico, and one team each from Pots 2 and 3.

The teams in Pot 2 are Australia, Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Tunisia, Ecuador and Paraguay.

Pot 3 consists of Croatia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Serbia & Montenegro is in a special pot and will be allocated to one of the three groups that are headed by a non-European team, either Brazil, Argentina or Mexico.

The draw will be held here on Friday.

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