The finals draw for the 2014 Fifa World Cup takes place at 16.00 GMT on Friday, with world soccer’s governing body and local organisers in Brazil desperately hoping that sporting matters will begin to take precedence after a fraught build-up of political delays, construction problems and public protest.
Representatives from the 32 teams which have qualified for the tournament have gathered in Costa do Sauipe, a resort in the city of Bahia, some 750 miles north of Rio de Janeiro, where the draw will be staged.
The draw show and surrounding infrastructure is estimated to be costing local authorities around UK£8 million. Live coverage is anticipated via free-to-air broadcasters in 193 countries.
Preparations for the tournament continue to be dogged by delays and construction-related issues considered worse than those which arose before South Africa hosted the last World Cup, Africa’s first, in 2010. Fifa confirmed earlier in the week that six of the 12 stadiums to be used next summer have yet to be completed.
Four – new builds in Cuiabá, Manaus, Natal and Porto Alegre – are expected to be ready by January, but there are increasing concerns about the stadiums in Curitiba and Sao Paulo, which is due to stage the opening match on 12th June. Fifa had originally asked for all stadiums to be delivered by December.
Last week, two people were killed when a crane fell onto the roof of the Arena Corinthians, in Sao Paulo. Speaking on Thursday, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said the stadium would now not be ready until mid-April.
Fifa’s hope is the draw will change the current narrative surrounding the tournament, although internal travel in such a large country is bound to remain an issue right up until kick-off, with concern about the abilities of several host city airports to cope with the expected 500,000 influx from outside Brazil.
Also on Thursday, Fifa confirmed that the winner of next year’s tournament will receive US$35 million, with the losing finalist taking home US$25 million. Third place will receive US$22 million, while fourth stands to get US$20 million. Quarter finalists will receive US$14 million with those eliminated in the round of 16 taking away US$9 million. Teams losing in the group stages will receive US$8 million.
Permutations, meanwhile, abound about the make-up of the eight groups; in Thursday’s dress rehearsal host nation Brazil were drawn with 2006 winners Italy, 1998 winners France and Australia.