FIFA World Cup draw took place in a glittering ceremony in Qatar but more than the intriguing match-ups on the field, it was the geopolitical frictions of the opponents that took the center stage.
The FIFA 2022 World Cup will be played in Qatar from 21st of November to 18th of December.
But what promises to be the grandest global footballing spectacle, has been marred in controversy on every step, from Qatar being awarded the hosting duties to Russia being barred from the competition and finally Norwegian delegate criticizing the hosts in front of the world a day before the draw took place.
All that drama did not relent when the FIFA World Cup draw finally took place.
The rivalries on the pitch gave way to off-field political issues with USA and Iran being drawn in the same group (Group B) with addition of Ukraine to the same set a real possibility after the playoffs. England, who do not have the greatest of relations with Tehran, also find themselves in the same Group B.
The focus on Group B overshadowed other notable draws.
Qatar (Group A) will make its tournament debut on the opening night on Nov. 21 against Ecuador.
They will later face the teams who open the tournament, the African champions Senegal and the Netherlands, whose coach Louis van Gaal said last week it was a “ridiculous” decision to award the World Cup to this tiny nation.
A Group E clash between 2010 champions Spain and 2014 winner Germany was arguably the highlight of the day whereas Group C could see a meeting of the most recent FIFA Best winners with Lionel Messi’s Argentina drawn to play Robert Lewandowski’s Poland.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s fifth straight World Cup appearance will start in Group H where Ghana, South Korea and Uruguay will look to eliminate the 2016 European Champions.
The complete groups are as follows:
Group A: Qatar, Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador.
Group B: England, United States, Iran, Wales/Scotland/Ukraine.
Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia.
Group D: France, Denmark, Tunisia, Peru/Australia or United Arab Emirates.
Group E: Spain, Germany, Japan, Costa Rica/New Zealand.
Group F: Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, Canada.
Group G: Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, Cameroon.
Group H: Portugal, Uruguay, South Korea, Ghana.