Would you believe it but we're talking World Cup again, specifically the 2018 tournament to be hosted by Russia. While football's organizing body FIFA is shrouded in controversy, the game must go on, and part of that is the draw today for the qualification rounds for Europe, Africa, South America, Oceania, and CONCACAF (North America, Central America & the Caribbean).
Here is all the information you need to watch the draw today.
When is the draw? Saturday, July 25 2015 at 18.00 local time (11.00 EST 17.00 BST)
TV information and times? LiveSoccer TV
Where does it take place? The Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg.
Who’s hosting the draw? Ronaldo, Diego Forlan, Fabio Cannavaro, Samuel Eto'o, Oliver Bierhoff, Rinat Dasaev, Alexander Kerzhakov, Alexie Smertin, Predrag Rajkovic, Madjer, Jérôme Valcke
Here are the different draw scenarios for the regions:
52 of Europe’s 53 teams involved in the draw, with hosts Russia exempt. They will be put into seven groups of six teams and two groups of five teams, each team playing each other between September 2016 and October 2017. UEFA have requested that England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands must be drawn into a group containing six teams. The nine group winners will qualify, while the eight best group-runners up will take part in a play-off. The pots are below:
Pot one: Germany, Belgium, Holland, Romania, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, and Croatia
Pot two: Italy, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Denmark, and Bosnia-Herzegovina
Pot three: Poland, Ukraine, Scotland, Hungary, Sweden, Albania, Northern Ireland, Serbia, and Greece
Pot four: Turkey, Slovenia, Israel, Republic of Ireland, Norway, Bulgaria, Faroe Islands, Montenegro, and Estonia
Pot five: Cyprus, Latvia, Armenia, Finland, Belarus, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, and Moldova
Pot six: Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Georgia, Malta, San Marino, and Andorra
The 26 lowest-ranked participating associations from the region will contest in round 1. The teams will be in two pots of 13 teams, the best 13 and worst 13. They will play each other in October. Zimbabwe have been expelled from the tournament.
The winners advance to Round Two, where they will join the 27 best and face off in another play off. The winners move to the last stage with five groups of four teams. The winner of each group will qualify for the World Cup.
North, Central America and the Caribbean
Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Aruba, Nicaragua and Curacao join Jamaica and Haiti in Round Three. The teams will be in two pots and paired against each other. These matches will take place between August and September.
The winners will join Costa Rica, Mexico, USA, Honduras, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago in Round Four. The 12 teams will be drawn into three groups of four teams. The winners and runners-up for these three groups advance.
American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga will contest Round One, the tournament based on a league system will be played between August and September. The winner advances with the seven remaining nations. These teams will be drawn into two groups of four. The winners, runners-up and third placed teams from both groups will advance. The teams will be placed in two groups of three. The winners of these groups will meet each other with the winner advancing to the intercontinental play-off.
Teams will be placed in one group of ten teams between October 2015 and October 2017, with the Match Schedule agreed in St. Petersburg. The top four teams qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while the fifth-place team advances to an intercontinental play-off. The draw today will assign a number to each team that will setup their schedules.
All images courtesy of FIFA.com