x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The whole world will watch Brazil

The UAE and more than 200 other teams will learn their path to the 2014 World Cup when Fifa hosts the qualifying draw at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

RIO DE JANEIRO // The UAE and more than 200 other teams will learn their path to the 2014 World Cup today when Fifa hosts the qualifying draw.

It will be the first major World Cup-related event in Brazil since 2007, when the South American nation was awarded the competition for the first time in 64 years.

As host, Brazil is the only nation that will not have to qualify, but 203 other teams will have to fight for the remaining 31 spots in qualifiers that run until November 2013.

The World Cup holders, Spain, will find out in which of the nine European groups they will play. The draw will also allocate the groups for Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the North, Central America and Caribbean regions.

South America will not be included in the draw because the continent's nine teams will be placed in a single group. They will play each other twice, home and away, with the top four finishers securing a World Cup spot. The fifth-place team will advance to an intercontinental play-off.

The UAE is one of the teams that will learn their route today, after advancing past India into the third round of the Asian qualifiers.

The 2014 World Cup will be played from June 12 until July 13, and the complete match schedule will be announced in October.

The schedule was expected to be made public this week, but delays with Brazil's stadium construction, which led to indecision on which of the 12 cities would host the opener, have apparently forced organisers to delay the announcement.

Today's draw is expect to take place amid protests from some Brazilians who have criticised the World Cup. Rights groups say construction work for the football competition and the 2016 Rio Olympics have come at a cost to some local residents who will benefit very little from the events.

The draw is due to start at 10pm UAE time and pot allocation will be based on the latest Fifa world rankings.

Jerome Valcke, the Fifa secretary-general, will be hosting the draw, assisted by past and present players from Brazil. Cafu and Neymar will take to the stage to assist with the draw for the African qualifying zone. The last draw of the night is for the European groups, with Ganso and Ronaldo assisting.