The preliminary competition of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ will start in Couva, Trinidad, on 15 June 2011, with Montserrat welcoming Belize to the Ato Boldon Stadium. This encounter kicks off the lengthiest football tournament in the world, with no fewer than 832 matches expected to be played across the six confederations to determine which 31 of the 203 participating countries will be battling for Planet Football’s most coveted crown alongside automatically qualified hosts Brazil in June/July 2014. Bhutan, Guam, Mauritania and Brunei Darrussalam have not registered for the competition.
Preliminary qualification rounds will be held in the North, Central America and Caribbean region and in the Asian Zone in June and July. 180 associations will then be drawn by lots in the Preliminary Draw on 30 July (15h00 local time/20h00 CET) in Rio de Janeiro in five of the confederations, namely AFC, CAF, CONCACAF; OFC and UEFA. No lots will be drawn for South America, where the qualifying round will be played in a league system according to CONMEBOL’s match schedule. Please visit FIFA.com for the detailed draw formats, direct link: http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/preliminaries/index.html. The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of 27 July 2011 will be used for the continental draws, with the exception of CONCACAF, who have already used the March 2011 rankings for the first round of the preliminary competition in that region.
There had been no changes with regard to the allocation of places at Brazil 2014. As the FIFA Executive Committee confirmed at the beginning of March, Europe will receive 13 places, Africa 5, South America 4.5, Asia 4.5, North, Central America and the Caribbean 3.5 and Oceania 0.5. There will however be a change in the determination of the opponents for the play-offs between confederations. A draw will take place at a press conference following the meeting of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Organizing Committee on 29 July 2011 in Rio.
For the 2010 FIFA World Cup preliminaries some 20 million fans – an average of almost 23,000 per match – flocked to the stadiums, creating a new attendance record in the history of the FIFA World Cup preliminary competition. The undisputed leaders in this respect were Mexico, whose home matches attracted a total attendance of almost 735,000 fans, or almost 82,000 per match. England's triumphant campaign, meanwhile, was watched live by an impressive 80,000 fans per match. 5602 players took part in total. Also involved were 310 referees and 650 assistants.
So as not to miss any of the action, FIFA.com will supply global coverage of the entire competition, from preliminary matches through to the Final in July 2014 in Brazil, offering football fans a one-stop shop website with real-time coverage. Live match coverage will be available for every game and will range from basic information to full MatchCast coverage with editorial commentaries, statistics and photos.