The procedure for drawing teams into groups for the 2018 World Cup has changed compared with 2014. (Source)

The principles are:

All teams will be allocated to pots 1 to 4 [...] The October 2017 edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be used to allocate all qualified teams to the four pots

no teams from the same confederation, with the exception of UEFA, which could have up to two teams in the same group, will be drawn into the same group.

How will the second constraint be enforced?

The 2014 draw allows for

Groups will be skipped to respect principle of geographic separation

If, hypothetically, Groups A-H have received their top seed and Groups A-G have also received their second seed as follows

A Russia      Mexico
B Brazil      England
C Belgium     Spain
D Germany     Denmark
E Poland      Switzerland
F Portugal    Croatia
G France      Uruguay
H Argentina   

There is only one team left in pot 2 and that is Columbia. However they can't be placed in Group H as this violates the "no teams from the same confederation in the same group" rule.

Is the draw restarted, or is the draw "fudged" for example by moving Croatia to Group H and putting Columbia in group F. Or is Columbia place in Group A, and the first placable team from the next pot put into group H, and if this last rule, what if the very last team can't be placed while respecting the rules.

Are the detailed rules for the draw published anywhere?

1 Answer 1


In the Regulations of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia - Final competition - 32. Group stage it's only dryly stated that:

The FIFA Organising Committee will divide the teams into groups by seeding and drawing lots [...], whilst taking sports and geographical factors into consideration, as far as possible.

That being said, FIFA indeed takes geographical constraints into account as you may see from the sophisticated FIFA World Cup 2014 draw procedure.

So, as we don't know how FIFA will exactly conduct the draw and given that the way the pots are formed for WC2018 are completely different from the previous edition, I can guess that the draw will be conducted with the help of computer (like UEFA Champions League group stage draw - video) and computer will only allow such draws that it never gets stuck at some point given the constraints.

Edit: FIFA oficially published the draw procedures (Video):

As I have already stated, the computer will be used to prevent deadlocks and it proved to be correct. After each draw, the group will be skipped if computer foresees 2 teams from the same confederation (except UEFA) being drawn into the same group. The video of the mock draw can be found here.

  • I watched some of that video. The computer was used to simulate the draw, to show the audience how it would work. The actual draw was done with little plastic footballs with bits of paper in them.
    – James K
    Nov 16, 2017 at 20:20
  • Yes, computer was telling which groups are available, and the drawmaker would take the plastic balls only from available pots representing the groups.
    – gdrt
    Nov 16, 2017 at 22:05
  • I see, fwiw I tried simulating the draw using a simple "skip if not permitted" rule, and it became stuck about 1 time in 5.
    – James K
    Nov 16, 2017 at 22:08

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