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Brazil passes its first organizational hurdle ahead of 2014 World Cup

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Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

(Read caption) FIFA's General Secretary Jerome Valcke (back L) presides as Brazil's Neymar (R) and Cafu (L) draw the names of African countries at the preliminary draw for the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Saturday. Brazil will host the 20th World Cup soccer tournament from June 12 to July 13 in 2014.

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Soccer’s governing body FIFA has had its share of troubles over the past few months as top officials became embroiled in a series of corruption scandals.

It almost faced another unwanted headline Saturday when high winds in Rio de Janeiro threatened to blow the roof off the temporary venue hosting the draw for the qualifying rounds of the next World Cup that will be held in Brazil in 2014.

While the roof held fast, one pairing almost brought down the house. At the end of the two-hour spectacular, defending World Cup champions Spain were drawn to face powerhouse European neighbor France in a group containing Belarus, Georgia, and Finland. Other enticing draws include Japan versus North Korea, Mexico going up against Costa Rica, and the three former Yugoslavian republics of Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia being drawn in the same group in Europe.

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