2014 FIFA World Cup preliminary draw

14:13, July 31, 2011      

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Former Brazilian football player Ronaldo participates in the preliminary draw for the FIFA World Cup 2014, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 30, 2011. (Xinhua/Wilton Junior/Agencia Estado)

FIFA President Joseph Blatter presided over the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Preliminary Draw in the city of Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.

Conducted by FIFA's Secretary-General Jerome Valcke, the draw, combined musical talent, emotion-catching video and soccer stars, determined the fate of 166 teams in their quest to earn a spot in the 32-team tournament.

Brazil's most famous soccer player Pele was on hand to welcome FIFA to Brazil. The legendary striker who scored more than 1,000 goals in his career, is an honorary ambassador to the 2014 World Cup.

Additionally, Brazilian President Dilma Roussef was present to observe the draw and learn more about the undertakings of her country's future event. Former stars including Ronaldo, Cafu, Zico, Zagallo, Bebeto, and current players including Neymar, Lucas Paizon, Fellipe Bastos and Paulo Henrique Ganso helped in the drawing.

The 32-team format will remain the same as previous World Cups. Europe will be represented by 13 teams. Africa will have 5 teams. South America and Asia will both have 4.5 spots. North America, Central America and the Caribbean will be awarded 3.5 places and Oceania will have a sole team competing for a chance to advance via an intercontinental play-off.

As Brazil is automatically qualified for the 2014 World Cup, the remaining 9 teams - Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela - will battle for the top four spots of the qualifiers and earn a spot in the tournament.

The fifth place finisher will compete in an intercontinental play-off against a team from Asia.

The North, Central American and Caribbean Zone are comprised of 35 participating members, who will compete for 3 spots in the 2014 World Cup. The team that places fourth in the group will advance to compete against the representative from Oceania.

With the drawing concluded, some 824 qualifying matches are set to take place. The quest for World Cup qualification begins as soon as September 2, 2011, and extends to October 15, 2013.

As Brazil do not have to compete in qualifiers, head coach of the national team Mano Menezes will have the tough task of preparing his team just through friendlies.

Upon their arrival to Rio de Janeiro, Blatter and Valcke expressed their support for Brazil, saying the country will be able to overcome the difficulties to deliver a successful World Cup.

Regarding the Confederations Cup that will take place in 2013, largely known as a warm-up to the World Cup, Blatter stated that FIFA is concentrating on three or four stadiums in Brazil to host the tournament. However, no definitive decision has been made as to which stadiums will hold the Confederations Cup.

Source: Xinhua

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