Some of the seedings for next week’s World Cup draw may be skewed by Russia’s war against Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic.
FIFA laid out the process Tuesday for the draw that took place in Qatar on April 1. Due to the conflict and the global health crisis, only 29 of 32 teams will be known at the time.
In June, the three remaining spots will be determined. One from Europe will play in matches involving Ukraine while the other two are from the intercontinental playoffs.
The draw in Doha will see the 29 teams that qualified will be divided into four pots based on their FIFA ranking. This ranking is based upon national team results. It will be updated the day prior to the draw.
Along with the defending champion France and Belgium, Brazil, Argentina and England, Qatar is in Pot 1. It is likely that Portugal or Italy will be the final top-seeded teams, as they are both in the same playoff bracket.
Germany is the 2014 World Cup Champion and has been outside the top 10 for over three years. Germany will be in Pot 2.
FIFA created placeholder slots in Pot 4 to resolve the uncertainty surrounding seeding the undecided entries. Because they couldn’t complete their games as planned, the teams could be placed in a more difficult World Cup group.
Other than Ukraine, Wales, and Colombia could also be affected. If they had qualified, each of these three teams would have been in Pot 3.
Only 15 teams have qualified for the World Cup, with more games scheduled around the globe over the next week.
The Ukraine was due to play at Scotland on Thursday. The winner will advance to either Wales or Austria on the 29th of March. Ukraine requested a postponement due to the inability of home-based players during the Russian invasion to travel and train.
A backlog of games was also created by the pandemic, which wiped out almost all European national soccer teams in 2020. It also delayed the intercontinental playoffs.
These playoffs will be held in Qatar from June 13-14. A team from Asia will face a South American representative, while the Oceania representative will take on a North American team.
World Cup draws are drawn to ensure that teams from different continents are evenly distributed. Each of the 13 European countries will be assigned so that no more than two teams are from any one of the eight groups.
The World Cup will be held in eight stadiums located around Doha, Qatari capital.
The current No. 52 ranking for the host nation is 52 is the lowest ranking of all the teams that have qualified. This is more than the 2018 host Russia which was ranked No. 65 at the time that the groups were drawn four-years ago.
FIFA expelled Russia from the qualifying playoffs in this month’s tournament as a punishment for its invasion of Ukraine.