The eight teams in Europe's World Cup playoffs will be seeded according to official FIFA rankings. There will also be a separate draw to determine which teams play the second legs at home.
Sepp Blatter made the announcements at a news conference after a FIFA executive committee meeting in Rio de Janeiro.
“We have decided on seeding the teams into two groups of four, taking the FIFA world rankings into account, with the top four in one pot and the others in another pot,” Blatter said. The rankings will be published on Oct. 16.
“There will be a separate draw to decide home and away,” Blatter added of the two-legged ties to determine four extra European places at the 2010 finals in South Africa.
This means the likes of former champions France and Germany will theoretically face an easier tie if they have to go through the play-offs.
While there are lots of teams which can still qualify automatically or via the play offs, the news about seedings could have massive implications for Group Seven’s World Cup hopefuls.
Currently second, four points behind Serbia, France could still win the group and condemn the Balkan team which led the group for so long to two tough play off games – all because of a seeding system which may be designed to give underperforming so-called top teams an easy route to the finals.