The first event of the FIFA World Cup starts with a kind of lottery but instead of selecting classified numbers, in this contest a country is selected; most had been made in January of the tournament year until 1982 and since the 1986 World Cup it is held in early December of the year before the start of the tournament.
The first version of the draw had been made in a football association's office, a few days before the 1930 World Cup; it was also repeated in 1934. Five of these have been held in hotel ballrooms; the 1950 draw was conducted in the office of a government agency. The 1958 draw was the first to be held in a television studio. The 1986 draw was notable as it was held less than two months after an earthquake struck the host nation's capital. A party was held a few hours before the 1998 draw which was the first to be performed in a stadium that hosted the tournament. The first draw that involved celebrity guests such as musical artists was held for the first time in 1990, a practice maintained until now. It was also held in a city that would not host the tournament like the one in 1994 that was developed in Las Vegas.
|FIFA World Cup||City||Location||Date|
|Uruguay 1930||Montevideo||Uruguayan Football Association||10 July 1930|
|Italy 1934||Rome||Ambasciatori Palace Hotel||1 May 1934|
|France 1938||Paris||Salon d'Horloge||5 March 1938|
|Brazil 1950||Río de Janeiro||Itamaraty Palace||22 May 1950|
|Switzerland 1954||Zurich||Saint Gotthard Hotel||30 November 1953|
|Sweden 1958||Stockholm||Cirkus Television Studios||8 February 1958|
|Chile 1962||Santiago de Chile||Carrera Hotel||18 January 1962|
|England 1966||London||Royal Garden Hotel||6 January 1966|
|Mexico 1970||Mexico City||Maria Isabel Sheraton Hotel||10 January 1970|
|West Germany 1974||Frankfurt||Radio für Hessen Salon||5 January 1974|
|Argentina 1978||Buenos Aires||The General San Martín Cultural Centre||14 January 1978|
|Spain 1982||Madrid||Madrid Congress Palace||16 January 1982|
|Mexico 1986||Mexico City||Televisa San Ángel||15 December 1985|
|Italy 1990||Rome||Palazzo dello Sport||9 December 1989|
|United States 1994||Las Vegas||Las Vegas Convention Center||19 December 1993|
|France 1998||Marseille||Stade Vélodrome||4 December 1997|
|South Korea/Japan 2002||Busan||BEXCO||1 December 2001|
|Germany 2006||Leipzig||Leipzig Trade Fair||9 December 2005|
|South Africa 2010||Cape Town||CTICC||4 December 2009|
|Brazil 2014||Salvador||Costa do Sauípe Resort||6 December 2013|
|Russia 2018||Moscow||State Kremlin Palace||1 December 2017|
The following table shows the times a country has been part of the World Cup groups.
Updated to include Russia 2018
|Team||Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D||Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|Republic of Ireland||2||1|
|Trinidad and Tobago||1|
|United Arab Emirates||1|
The current format of the draw has been criticized for lacking balance, fairness and equal distribution of quality. A study in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports suggested that while the current model does ensure Randomness, Tractability, and Geographic separation, it "fails to satisfy the principle of balance". Under the study's proposed draw model, based on over 40,000 simulations of the 2014 draw, the model exhibited a much more balanced group and much less variation in the strength of the groups when compared to the current system utilized by FIFA.