FIFA announced on Thursday a new and simplified format for the 2018 World Cup draw with the teams to be grouped by their place in the world ranking rather than their continent.
The global soccer body said that the 32 teams would be divided into four pots with the seven top-ranked teams plus hosts Russia in pot one, the next eight-ranked teams in pot two and so on.
The draw for the previous World Cup in Brazil involved a complex system in which teams were divided according to rankings for pot one, and their continent for the remainder.
This would avoid another controversy which emerged in 2014 when the November rankings were used, which critics said gave an advantage to teams involved in that month's play offs.
Brazil, Iran, Mexico, Japan, Belgium, South Korea and Saudi Arabia are the teams who have made sure of their places in next year's tournament so far.