All eyes on Frankfurt for World Cup draw
3 December 2003 , FRANKFURT - All eyes will be on Frankfurt this week when the preliminary qualification draw for the 2006 World Cup in Germany takes place. Over 100 countries will broadcast Friday's draw live and an audience of several hundred million people are expected to watch the deputy general secretary of world football's governing body, FIFA, Jerome Champagne host the event. Former African Player of the Year Abedi Pele will also be present along with six-time Formula One world champion, Michael Sch
3 December 2003
FRANKFURT - All eyes will be on Frankfurt this week when the preliminary qualification draw for the 2006 World Cup in Germany takes place.
Over 100 countries will broadcast Friday's draw live and an audience of several hundred million people are expected to watch the deputy general secretary of world football's governing body, FIFA, Jerome Champagne host the event.
Former African Player of the Year Abedi Pele will also be present along with six-time Formula One world champion, Michael Schumacher.
Ahead of Friday's draw, will be a FIFA meeting to finalise the draw and qualification arrangements for each of the five geographic zones: AFC (Asia), CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean), CONMEBOL (South America), UEFA (Europe) and OFC (Oceania).
Europe has been allocated 14 of the 32 final places, although that includes the automatically qualified hosts Germany.
Africa will have five representatives. Asia and South America are guaranteed four teams while the North and Central America and the Caribbean zone receives three.
One country from each of these zones, as well as the qualifying team from Oceania, will also go into a yet to be determined playoff round for the final two places.
As usual there will be no draw for the South American zone as the qualifying competition has already begun using a league system on a home-and-away basis.
The Asian zone will be drawn first, followed by Oceania, CONCACAF, Africa and Europe.
The African zone has already agreed to merge the 2006 Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers although the new system will leave several countries without competitive international football for anything up to three years.
However CAF President, Issa Hayatou, has defended the measure saying it was the best solution to the row over clubs releasing their players for national fixtures.
In Europe, there has also been a club versus country row over the fact that the qualifying group will feature six or seven teams as opposed to five or six in previous qualifying campaigns.
There will eight top seeds, likely to be European champions France, Euro 2004 hosts Portugal, Sweden, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, England and Turkey.
The eight group winners and the two best runners-up will qualify automatically with the other six second-place finishers involved in a play-off for the remaining three places.
Oceania, meanwhile, has been seething since June when FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, announced that it had been stripped of an automatic place in the 2006 World Cup and instead would have to achieve entry via a play-off.
In Asia, preliminary qualification rounds are already underway after the preliminary draw for the AFC zone was made on 24 October. It involves 14 teams playing home-and-away ties to see which seven will join the other 25 nations in Asia's 32-team preliminary competition.
The competition format for the 32 teams will be formally decided by the World Cup organising committee on Wednesday, with the draw taking place two days later.
The Asian qualifiers are scheduled to kick off on 18 February next year.
Korea have named among eight top seeds, along with 2002 World Cup co-hosts Japan.
China and Saudi Arabia, who also qualified for the 2002 World Cup, are also seeded alongside Iran, who just missed out on qualification last time after losing a two-legged playoff against Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Uzbekistan.
Subject: German news