Fully Seeded: A (Men's Football) World Cup Timelime
In 2018, Michel Platini gave an interview in which he admitted that the draw for the World Cup of twenty years earlier had been slightly rigged.
The disgraced ex-UEFA president admitted that ‘a little trickery’ had been employed to ensure that the hosts France and the defending champs Brazil were kept apart until the final, assuming they’d won their groups of course. The fact that Platini had been banned from involvement in the sport following the corruption scandal of three years earlier meant that, in all honesty, it wasn’t that surprising an admission.
And besides, France 98 had been such a good tournament that no-one minded all that much really.
However, Platini had another admission to make, one that, many believe, might’ve proven a bit more seismic for the future of the tournament…
In order to decide which teams should be seeded for the tournament, FIFA had devised a rather complicated system based on how the teams competing had fared in the three previous tournaments and their FIFA rankings at the time. It was a rather tricky system to get the hang of, but it was used for the 2002 and 2006 tournaments as well before being abandoned in favour of just FIFA rankings.
The original plan was that the top seven teams plus hosts France would be seeded into the top pot, and the rest of the teams would then be divided into three others based on their continents, similar to the draws for the previous tournaments. It would’ve been simple and efficient, except that Europe would’ve had nine non-seeded teams, so a leftover team would’ve been put in the pot with the Asian and leftover South American teams and drawn into either Brazil or Argentina’s groups.
However, Platini revealed, just before the draw procedure was about to be finalised, someone spoke up:
“What’s the point in having this elaborate seeding system if you’re just gonna seed a quarter of the teams? Why not seed the whole thing?”
He didn’t say who it was; for all we know, it might’ve been the tea boy. The fact he didn’t name them indeed seems to imply it wasn’t someone whose opinion would normally be taken seriously.
Whoever it was, their words seemed to resonate with him and the rest of the event organisers, enough to give a slight reconsideration to their plans.
And so, when the draw for the tournament finally took place on the 4th of December 1997, the teams were indeed divided into four pots based entirely on their seedings in the system.
The 32-team era of the men’s football World Cup had officially begun…
to be continued…
Greetings again friends, and welcome to my new TL!
This is something I've been doing for some time: redrawing the World Cups with the teams grouped in their rankings rather than continentally. I was doing this for a while before, a few weeks ago, with my old TL winding down, I decided to just do it and record the results and post them on here!
So, we'll be running through the five World Cups from 98 to 2014 in this style. Then, when we get to 2018, we'll be having a bit of fun; more will be revealed in due course. In the meantime, tune back in next Wednesday to see how things play out in France...