FIFA World Cup draw begins with Nelson Mandela tribute

Nelson Mandela was remembered with a video tribute to open the World Cup draw ceremony on Friday.

Defending champion Spain opens with repeat of the 2010 final against the Netherlands

Marta and former Brazilian soccer player Bebeto introduce the World Cup mascot Fuleco during the draw for the 2014 World Cup, which will open with host Brazil playing Croatia. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

Nelson Mandela was remembered with a video tribute to open the World Cup draw ceremony on Friday.

The groups

A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon.

B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile Australia.

C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan.

D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy.

E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras.

F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria.

G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States.

H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea.

The 90-second memorial montage included images of Mandela holding the World Cup trophy when FIFA awarded his native South Africa hosting rights for the 2010 tournament.

The film began with sustained applause from guests and team delegations, who stood minutes later when FIFA President Sepp Blatteer called for a moment's silence.

"Now let's celebrate humanity, let's celebrate Mandela and let's celebrate football," Blatter said, bringing the silent reflection to an end after several seconds.

Mandela, the former South Africa president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, died on Thursday.

His last major public appearance was at the World Cup final in Johannesburg in July 2010.

Then aged 91, Mandela came to the Soccer City stadium during the closing ceremony ahead of the match.

He was driven in an open electric vehicle around the pitch on a chill evening to receive an ovation from nearly 85,000 spectators.

Spain to play against the Netherlands

Friday's draw pits defending champion Spain against the Netherlands for its opening World Cup game, a repeat of the 2010 final, while host Brazil faces a relatively easy path to the knockout stage.

The United States was drawn into the toughest group with Germany, Portugal and Ghana.

"Difficult draw, but a group the U.S. can get through if they play well," former U.S. coach Bruce Arena told The Associated Press.

Brazil starts its campaign for a sixth World Cup title with an opener against Croatia. Mexico and Cameroon are also in the group.

Bosnia-Herzegovina, the only World Cup newcomer among the 32 teams, plays its opener against Argentina. Iran and Nigeria were also drawn in that Group F.

Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan are in Group C, with Uruguay, Costa Rica, England and Italy in a strong Group D.

One of the easiest groups on paper looked to be E, with Switzerland, Ecuador, France and Honduras.

Russia, host of the next World Cup, is in Group H with Belgium, Algeria and Korea.


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