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Oct 14, 2013

France appeal to FIFA over seeding

The French Football Federation (FFF) is to contact FIFA on Monday in a last-ditch attempt to force a change in the seeding system for Europe's World Cup qualifying playoffs.

The Thierry Henry handball has brought the issue into sharper focus
France qualified for the 2010 World Cup in controversial circumstances, ousting Ireland courtesy of a Thierry Henry handball assist.

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The best eight runners-up from the UEFA zone will go into a hat in Zurich next Monday to determine whom they will face over two legs on November 15 and 19 for a place in Brazil next summer.

While their rivals find themselves in six-team qualifying groups, France were drawn in the five-team Group I along with reigning world and European champions Spain. With nations earning 2.5 times more ranking points for a victory in a qualifying game than in a friendly, FFF president Noel Le Graet told RMC he would raise the issue with football's global governing body.

"We're going to contact them on Monday. There is a little injustice between the groups of five and those of six," Le Graet explained. "Our rivals in the other groups have been able to score more points in official matches. That's a fact. But the rules have existed for a while. It'll certainly be complicated. It'll be changed for the future, I imagine. In my opinion, it's difficult, but it would be fairer."

The four teams ranked highest by FIFA will be seeded, ostensibly giving them an easier draw. Currently ranked 25th, France are almost certain to be unseeded. Croatia, Portugal and Greece will definitely be ranked higher, and with Ukraine playing San Marino a win will place them on more ranking points than France. Even if Ukraine qualified automatically after of England, Roy Hodgson's men would still be above France meaning there is little chance of a seeding place for Didier Deschamps.

Sweden would also be ahead of Les Bleus if they draw with Germany, as would Bosnia if they drew and Greece won their group.

Deschamps' men routed Australia 6-0 in Friday's friendly and face Finland at the Stade de France just outside Paris in their final qualifier before the next FIFA ranking, which will be used to determine the seeds for next week's draw, is published on Thursday.

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