The 2014 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw saw officials from 203 national teams, hailing from the 6 football confederations, congregating in Rio de Janeiro on 30 July 2011. The results of the first draw determined the qualification groups, where teams would have to battle it out for a place in the finals. Although the temperature in Rio de Janeiro was a mild 20°C, the heat was already on for the teams and their fans.
The draw was held in front of TV cameras from all over the world at the Marina da Glória, and barely a moment passed after the draw was done, that the internet was ablaze with the fans’ reactions about who the table-toppers will be. The betting season had sprung wide open and punters were already giving it their all. Talk about football crazy!
The preliminary draw split up the teams from each confederation into qualification groups, where a veritable football battle royale took place to determine the best 32 teams that will compete at the finals. As the host nation, Brazil passed automatically, leaving it up to the other 31 teams to offer a spectacle of sport passion and energy that delighted fans from 15 June 2011 up till the very last match on 20 November 2013.
Exactly 816 matches were played during the qualification process and 2,334 goals were scored by the competing teams, all trying hard to secure a place in the finals. The qualification was divided according to geographic zones. The European Zone governed by UEFA contributed 13 teams to the finals, the South American Zone under CONMEBOL added 6 nations to the mix and the remaining 13 teams came from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and North/Central America. For the first time there will be no teams participating from Oceania.
After the qualification process drew to a close, there was still more coming to satisfy the fans’ hunger for the beautiful game. The final draw on 3 December 2013 will decide the groups stage of the final round of the tournament and drive football fever at an all time high.