FIFA isn’t an organization that likes change, in pretty much anything. So in order to avoid a situation in which “unattractive” names like Belgium or Colombia are the first seed in the 2014 World Cup group draw, they’re about to once again tinker with the system and enable nations with a better chance of selling tickets to have a number one spot reserved for them.
Every World Cup, FIFA change the way they rank teams before the draw, ensuring that pretty much the same nations get to be seeded group toppers, more or less. In 2010, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England and France were the number one seeds, with South Africa replacing France due to their host status. The method back then? Random FIFA ranking (the one before the last one at moment of the draw) because otherwise they wouldn’t get the teams they wanted.
In 2006, Brazil, England, Spain, Germany, Mexico, France, Italy and Argentina were the top seeds. The method? FIFA ranking + performance in the last two World Cups. Why two? It made sense.
In 2002, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Mexico, England were the top seeds, while Japan and South Korea replaced Mexico and England as the hosts. Method? FIFA ranking + performance in the last three World Cups.
In 1998? Germany, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Romania, Netherlands, Mexico, with France replacing Mexico due to their host status. Method? Same as in 2002. See a pattern emerging? FIFA like the big names, regardless of how well they’ve done recently, to remain on top, even if it means adjusting the system.
The FIFA rankings have never been taken too seriously by anyone but FIFA, but to see them disregard their own system just so they have a better shot at selling tickets (Which will probably be sold eventually) reeks of a new level for incompetence, corruption and a lack of any kind of fair-play conscience, despite the ‘FIFA Fair Play’ plastered over pretty much everything. Colombia are currently 5th in the world; Belgium are sixth; Uruguay are 7th. It’s hard to imagine any of them will get the number one seed once the draw is made up.