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Wednesday, December 3, 1997 Published at 11:06 GMT


England miss out on World Cup seedings
image: [ The FIFA rankings: A controversial decision ]
The FIFA rankings: A controversial decision

England's World Cup hopes have been dealt a blow after FIFA decided not to make them one of the top eight seeds for the finals in France next year.

Although current world rankings were taken into account, England narrowly failed to make it into the top eight.

It means England Manager Glenn Hoddle's side will be placed in a qualifying group with one of the eight seeded teams, which are Brazil, France, Germany, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Romania and the Netherlands.

[ image: The England manager, Glenn Hoddle, has criticised the seedings]
The England manager, Glenn Hoddle, has criticised the seedings
The eight seeded teams will each be placed in a group of their own along with three other unseeded countries. Only two teams from each group will qualify to the second round, leaving 16 teams to compete in the knockout competition.

The decision on seedings was taken by the World Cup organising committee and announced two days before Thursday's draw for the finals.

They decided to base the decision 60% on results in the previous three World Cups and 40% on current world rankings. England is sixth in the world, but has paid the price for failing to qualify for USA 94.

But there was some good news for the England manager, Glenn Hoddle, with the announcement that the central defender Sol Campbell will be able to take part in the opening game of the finals, despite picking up two yellow cards in the qualifying tournament.

Hoddle, speaking before the announcement, said: "If the rankings are to mean anything they've got to be used for something, not just of saying 'we're better than you.' They've got to have some credibility."

"After all, past record is one thing, but that was something achieved by a different management team and often an entirely different set of players."

Hoddle said that England's present FIFA ranking of sixth reflected the progress the team has made.

"I think we have a new respect in the world and I still think there are six or seven teams who can win the World Cup and we're one of them."

Scotland, who qualified for the finals as the best runner up in the tournament, will also be keeping their fingers crossed for Thursday's draw.

They finished second in their group, losing only once to Sweden away.

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