Germany and France are two of the top-three ranked women’s soccer teams in the world and only one of them will make it all the way to the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup thanks to a quirky schedule set by FIFA.
As Grant Wahl of SI.com explains, if Germany (Group B) and France (Group F) win their respective groups as expected and then win their round of 16 match-ups (again, as expected), they will face each other in the quarterfinals.
This scheduling mess wasn’t created randomly, as can happen in the men’ tournament. Rather, FIFA explained to Wahl that this was done intentionally to maximise attendance at games and ratings on television.
“Similar to previous draws for FIFA Women’s World Cups like Germany in 2011, teams are seeded … and allocated into specific groups for ticketing and promotion reasons,” a FIFA spokesperson told SI.com. “Whilst the interest in the FIFA Women’s World Cup has grown significantly over the last years, the success and great interest from the public in the tournament in Germany in 2011 can’t be compared to the Brazil [men’s] World Cup. Filling the stadia is a FIFA and host association key objective. The allocation of teams to venues, the ticketing and promotion plan and the ticket price strategy are among the key factors for the overall success of the event.”
Germany and France are not the only teams getting the short end of the FIFA stick.
Of the teams expected to reach the round-of-16 knockout stage, the top three teams in the world, Germany, the U.S., and France, will all be on the same side of the bracket competing for one spot in the final.
In addition, as Wahl points out, Sweden ended up in the “Group of Death” with the United States, Nigeria, and Australia, due to what appears to have been an arbitrary decision by FIFA to give one of the six top seeds to Brazil (the winners of the CONMEBOL confederation) rather than Sweden who was ranked higher but represents the UEFA confederation who did not declare a World Cup qualifying champion.
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