It's said that a Brazilian passport is valued second only to a US passport on the black market, because you can basically come from anywhere in the world and look Brazilian. The country has an indigenous Amerindian population alongside legacies of European colonialism and black slavery; it has the largest population of Japanese ancestry outside Japan, hosts the biggest Oktoberfest outside Germany, has more people of Lebanese or Syrian extraction than the populations of Lebanon and Syria combined, and vast numbers of second and third generation Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese.
The Japanese enclave in Liberdade would make São Paulo an ideal base for the Japanese team, while Curitiba or Porto Alegre are the nearest host cities to the German 'Alpine' towns and villages of Santa Catarina.
Salvador, where The Bottletop Foundation is located, was the original capital of Brazil and the centre of the slave trade. It's the Brazilian city with the biggest African influence, evident in its people, food, music and culture. Ghana or Nigeria might be based there.
As for England, there would be a nice symmetry to them playing at least one game in São Paulo, where Charles Miller organised the first ever game of football on Brazilian soil, having brought a couple of balls back from boarding school in Southampton. But I've got a feeling England will be based in Natal, a beach resort on the north eastern coast (I can already picture Chaplin's Bar overflowing with lobster-skinned fans and St George's crosses).
Ten teams from Latin America have qualified: Brazil; Argentina; Colombia; Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras. Four of them are seeded teams (Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay), meaning four out of the eight groups will be headed by Latin American countries.
We asked three of our authors where in Brazil they would like to see their country based, and which teams they hope to avoid in the draw:
Pablo Corso (Argentina)
I'd like Argentina to avoid France, Holland, Italy, England and Portugal, so from the European pot I'm hoping for Greece, Croatia or Bosnia. And I'd happily take either Iran or Honduras from Pot 3. Further down the line, Argentina's traditional rivals are, naturally enough, Brazil and Uruguay, and to a lesser degree Germany ・Germany historically cause us the most problems. I doubt I'll manage to get to the tournament myself, but if I do I'd love the chance to visit Rio, Recife or Fortaleza, so hopefully Argentina will be based in one of them.
Leonardo Haberkorn (Uruguay)
I'd like us to avoid Holland in the draw, we always do badly against the Dutch. On the other hand I'd quite like to see us get France and Ghana (Uruguay has got the better of them recently and a fair bit of rivalry has developed). As for where the team is based, Porto Alegre is relatively near to Uruguay, so it would make my life easier in terms of going.
Surya Lecona Moctezuma (Mexico)
For Mexico, as for most Latin American countries, the likes of Brazil, Italy, Germany and England have become a psychological barrier, so they're the teams to avoid. But on the other hand, it's much more exciting playing against them. Personally, and the same goes for most of my Mexican friends, I like European football a lot, so although it's a bit of a contradiction, because it would make life more difficult, I'd like Mexico to land in one of the groups with a European seed. In terms of rivalry, there's the USA, obviously: the idiosyncrasies of both countries have led to cultural and historical animosity, meaning rivalry in a sporting sense, as well as so many others. Mexico's bogey team, meanwhile, is Argentina: time and time again in international tournaments, they prove to be our downfall. It would be great to see Mexico in Rio de Janeiro, and I love Salvador de Bahia, so maybe there ・as long as the infrastructure's ready for a World Cup!
Clara Becker (Brazil)
Team to avoid in the groups: Italy. Bogey team to avoid in the knock-out stages: France. Venues: I live in Brasília and it would be great if Spain were placed here.
So there you have it: give our authors some thought when you hear their countries' names drawn out of the hat.
Thanks to everyone who has sponsored the project so far - we've got off to a great start