FIFA World Cup qualification

The qualification for the FIFA World Cup is the process a national soccer team goes through to qualify for the final round of the FIFA Soccer World Cup ™ Qualification reduces the large number of eligible participants from 211 to just 32 for the phase end of 2022 edition (expanded to 48 from 2026). Here is everything you need to know about FIFA World Cup qualification.

Six continents

FIFA’s six continental zones are organized by their respective confederations: AFC (Asia), CAF (Africa), CONCACAF (North, Central America and the Caribbean) CONMEBOL (South America), OFC (Oceania) and UEFA (Europe)). For each World Cup, based on the number and relative strength of the teams in the confederations, FIFA determines in advance the number of places in the final to be allocated to each zone.

FIFA World Cup qualification


One thing you need to know about FIFA World Cup qualification is that the hosts get automatic starting positions, until 2002 also the defending champion. Unlike other sports, the results of previous World Cups or continental championships are not taken into account. The current qualification process is qualification 2022, which started in 2019 and ends in 2022.

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Qualification for the World Cup has developed over many years, after having no qualification in 1930, when the tournament only took place held by invitation. 13 teams have signed up for the current three-year process. The first qualifying match for the World Cup took place on June 11, 1933, when Sweden beat Estonia 6-2 in Stockholm. The first goal of a World Cup tie came 7 minutes after kick-off: according to some sources, it was scored by Swedish captain Knut Kroon or, according to other sources, by Estonian goalkeeper Evald Tipner (own goal).

From 16 to 24

While the number of teams that qualified for the final has steadily increased, from 16 between 1934 and 1978 to 24 between 1982 and 1994, and finally to 32 in 1998, the qualifying format has been the World Cup in history. One thing you need to know about FIFA World Cup qualification is that teams were grouped continentally and competed for a fixed number of spots, with one or two spots awarded to winners of the intercontinental playoffs.


“H” denotes an automatic starting position for the host, “C” denotes an automatic starting position for the defending champion, and “inv” indicates the number of teams that were invited in 1930. Intercontinental playoff spots are represented as fractions, with a spot in a direct playoff counted as 0.5 spots and a spot in a semi-final playoff (where the winner meets another team for a spot in the final) counts as 0.25 spots counted.

FIFA World Cup qualification

 First appearance in team classification

Only teams that have played at least one match are considered for first use. One thing you need to know about FIFA World Cup qualification is that teams that withdrew before qualifying or that qualified for the World Cup due to the elimination of other teams through walkover will not be considered.

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Current format

There are currently 32 places available for the 2022 finals. One of them is reserved for the host nation, but if two or more nations host the competition together, each receives a spot.

From 1934 to 2002

From 1934 to 2002 a seat was reserved for the winners of the previous World Cup, but in November 2001 FIFA announced that as of the 2006 final, the defending champions would no longer be automatically admitted to the next tournament. This decision was made to address the problem that returning champions are putting their competitors at a disadvantage because they have not played a competitive game in the last two years.



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