FIFA's system for determining the World Cup groups is flawed. But in those flaws lie advantages and in those advantages lie FIFA's power. As everyone knows, conspiracies account for 98 percent of all occurrences in sports and the World Cup draw is no different. So open your eyes and see the conspiracy that is so obviously embedded within this process. Somewhere.
Instead of using a logical system based entirely on rankings designed by someone who knows what numbers are, unlike FIFA's world rankings, the current method tries to preserve an unnecessary and counter-competitive emphasis on geographical balance within the groups. FIFA's rankings are only used to determine the eight seeded teams, which somehow includes Switzerland. The other three pots from which the eight groups are selected are divided by geography and this time a menacing Pot "X" was employed just to confuse and intimidate viewers into not thinking too much about the process. Care to question something? Then you go in Pot "X" with a piranha, swine flu and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Good luck.
With logic and reason properly ignored and "chance" now in play, FIFA is free to do their nefarious bidding. The night before the draw, in a lavish hotel suite paid for with the tears of orphans, FIFA president Sepp Blatter decides who he considers to be friends and who he considers to be enemies. Because determining the best team in the world is just an accidental byproduct of the World Cup's main purpose of settling vendettas and funneling money from corporate sponsors. He is surrounded by women in exotic dress who are repulsed by the thought of his formless potato sack of flesh and he looks to an autographed picture of bloated actor Gerard Depardieu for twisted inspiration while a VHS cassette of his 1994 film "My Father The Hero" plays on repeat in the background.
First, there's the matter of calming the angry host nation. In Group A, Brazil gets the underwhelming set of Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon. Maybe a few comfortable wins will get the locals to back off their widespread protests of the tournament and decide it's not so bad after all.
Second: Looking after your own. Switzerland, home to FIFA headquarters and Sepp Blatter's place of birth, goes in Group E with non-powerhouses Ecuador and Honduras. To keep Frenchman and UEFA president Michel Platini from threatening Blatter's carefully guarded perch atop an international organization that answers to no one, France can slide in here, as well.
Next on the agenda is squashing the most outspoken enemies of FIFA. Ever since Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup, there have been three countries making the most fuss over FIFA's cronyism and backroom deals: Australia and the United States, the two losing 2022 bids, and England, who themselves lost the 2018 bid to Russia. If they don't like the way World Cup hosting is decided, then they can suffer through torment in Brazil and learn to keep quiet.
For Australia, it's Group B with Spain, the Netherlands and Chile. For England, it's Group D with Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica, including a start in the Amazon jungle. For the USA, it's the tournament's most grueling travel schedule in Group G with Germany, who knocked them out of the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals on a handball at the goalline, Ghana, who knocked them out of the last two consecutive World Cups, and one spot left open for just a moment. Blatter wheezes with laughter.
Then there's personal favorites. After professing his adoration for "good boy" Lionel Messi, Argentina are given an easy ride in Group F with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria. As for Cristiano Ronaldo, who made such a stink over Blatter's comments, he can go into that horrid Group G, giving Portugal a difficult path so Messi can be praised for going deeper into the tournament than that "commander" and his boys underwear line that doesn't come in Blatter's size. The ultimate discourtesy.
The final two groups are decided by a feather-clad showgirl after Blatter passes out from eating coins like breath mints.
With the groups set, just the small matter of putting on a show for the chumps remains. To make it seem random and no one's fault but the cruel hand of fate, retired footballers are tasked with pulling the names out of pots in front of a global audience. Except those little slips of paper inside those balls are actually ultra thin LCD screens that project whatever name is transmitted to it by an intern backstage. At one point, 86-year-old Alcides Ghiggia drops a ball, affording FIFA secretary general and MC for the night Jerome Valcke to sneer knowingly at all the rubes sitting before him while they're distracted by the poor old man chasing the plastic ball.
There is also cat sacrifices and ritualistic Macarena dancing involved, but it's best if you don't know about that.
- - - - - - -
- Sports & Recreation
- Sepp Blatter
- 2022 World Cup