Holy (soccer) balls, what a draw, huh? Over the next few weeks, Shaun and I will be dissecting the 8 groups that make up the first round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
To say the least, there were some…odd occurences. For one, the Swiss got one of the eight seeds, ensuring that they would not end up in a group with multiple tough teams. That’s not a huge surprise, as FIFA president Sepp Blatter is Swiss, and already has a lengthy history of corruption. In the interest of full disclosure, these allegations of corruption were never “proven,” though it was the Swiss authorities that cleared him of financial mismanagement over huge losses tied to FIFA marketing partner ISL’s collapse, while a potentially less biased Council of Europe alleged that he was aware of what was going on. When FIFA conducted an internal review, it was Blatter who halted it under some pretense of confidentiality breach.
And then, you have UEFA President Michel Platini, whose French shares a group with the Swiss, and the unheralded Ecuador and Honduras. There might be those more trusting that ask, “but wait, if this was so corrupt, would the French have gotten a seed too, ensuring them a theoretically easier path out of the group stages?” Well, after their awful showing in South Africa in 2010, that would have been even a tougher sell. Platini was one of the greatest soccer players that ever lived, and that is beyond dispute, but he evidently isn’t above taking favors.
And then, you have Colombia and Belgium getting seeds over powerhouse teams and former champions like Italy and England. And while Uruguay isn’t bad by any stretch, they were somehow seeded ahead of last year’s finalist, Holland. FIFA defenders will tell you there is a points system that determines a team’s ranking in the World, but when Belgium, Colombia, Uruguay and Switzerland are ranked above Italy, England, Portugal, Holland, and even solid African sides like Ghana and the Ivory Coast, how reliable is that system?
Anyway, we hope you are looking forward to our analysis of the World Cup groups, as we are certainly looking forward to writing about it. There’s nothing like blatant skullduggery by those in charge to stoke the creative fires. I promise though, we’ll be impartial… mostly. Our first group is Group A, consisting of Brazil, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon. See you Monday for that one!