Open main menu

The FIFA World Cup qualification is the process that a national association football team goes through to qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals. The FIFA World Cup is the largest international team sport competition in the world with a qualification process required to reduce the large field of countries from 211 to just 32 for the World Cup finals.

Qualifying tournaments are held within the six FIFA continental zones (Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania, Europe), and are organized by their respective confederations. For each tournament, FIFA decides beforehand the number of places in the finals allocated to each of the continental zones, based on the numbers or relative strength of the confederations' teams.

The hosts of the World Cup receive an automatic berth. Unlike many other sports, results of the previous World Cups or of the continental championships are not taken into account. Until 2002, the defending champions also received an automatic berth, but starting from the 2006 World Cup this is no longer the case.

The current qualification process is the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification which commenced in 2019 and finishes in 2022.

HistoryEdit

Over many years, the World Cup's qualification has evolved, from having no qualification at all in 1930, when the tournament was invitational and only 13 teams entered, to the current two-year process. The first World Cup qualifying match was played on 11 June when Sweden defeated Estonia 6–2 in Stockholm. The first ever goal in a World Cup qualifying match was scored 7 minutes into the game: it was scored according to some sources by Swedish captain Knut Kroon, or according to other sources by Estonian goalkeeper Evald Tipner (own goal).

While the number of teams which qualified for the finals has increased steadily, from 16 between 1934 and 1978, to 24 between 1982 and 1994, and finally to 32 starting from 1998, the qualification format has been basically the same throughout the history of the World Cup. The teams have been grouped continentally, and they competed for a fixed number of places, with one or two places awarded to the winners of intercontinental play-offs.

Qualification spots by continentEdit

The table below lists the numbers of spots allocated by FIFA for each continent in each tournament. If no places were allocated to a continent as per the case of Oceania prior to 1966 and Africa in 1938-1954 and 1966, this does not indicate an exclusion of those continents by FIFA, but rather that no country from those continents made an entry to the aforementioned Cups.[1]

A large part of Africa was under European colonial rule for the majority of the 20th century. Consequently, only three African countries were affiliated to FIFA in 1954: Egypt (since 1923), Sudan (since 1948) and Ethiopia (since 1952).[2] Egypt entered the 1934, 1938 and 1954 Cups, but not the 1930 or 1950 Cups, while Sudan and Ethiopia did not enter the Cup until 1958. Though an African country, Egypt entered in 1938 and 1954 in the European group, and therefore the table below gives no data about Africa for these two Cups.

Places in the intercontinental play-offs count as 0.5 spots, and numbers in bold represent the winners of the intercontinental play-offs. "+C" denotes an additional spot for defending champions (1938-2002), and "+H" denotes an additional spot for host nations (from 1938).

Places allocated for continents
Continental zone 1934
 
(16)
1938
 
(15)1
1950
 
(13)2
1954
 
(16)
1958
 
(16)
1962
 
(16)
1966
 
(16)
1970
 
(16)
1974
 
(16)
1978
 
(16)
1982
 
(24)
1986
 
(24)
1990
 
(24)
1994
 
(24)
1998
 
(32)
2002
 
 
(32)
2006
 
(32)7
2010
 
(32)
2014
 
(32)
2018
 
(32)
2022
 
(32)
2026
 
 
 
(48)
Europe 12 111
+C+H
72
+C
11
+H
9.53
+C+H
8+4
2×0.5
9
+H
8
+C
8.5
+H
8.5
+C
13
+H
12.5
+C
13
+H
12
+C
14
+H
13.5
+C
13
+H
13 13 13
+H
13 16
Africa 1 0 0.53 0.54 05 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 5 5 5 5
+H
5 5 5 9
Asia 1 12 1 0.54 15 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3.5 2.5
+2H
4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5
+H
8
Oceania did not exist 0.5 0.5 0.256 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 1
North and Central America
and Caribbean
1 1 2 1 1 0.5 1 1
+H
1 1 2 1
+H
2 1.256
+H
3 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 6
–3H
South America 2 1 4
+H
1
+C
3 3.5
+C+H
3
+C
3 2.5
+C
2.5
+H
3
+C
4 2.5
+C
3.56 4
+C
4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5
+H
4.5 4.5 6
Play-off tournament did not exist 2
Total 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 24 24 24 24 32 32 32 32 32 32 32 48
1 In 1938, Austria withdrew after qualifying on being annexed by Germany and were not replaced, so only 15 teams, 12 of them European, played in the finals.
2 In 1950, India, Scotland, and Turkey withdrew after qualifying and were not replaced, so only 13 teams, none of them Asian and 6 of them European, played in the finals.
3 Initially in 1958, Africa and Asia together were given 1 spot, while Europe was given 9 spots. However, after Israel won the African and Asian zone without playing any matches due to withdrawals of other teams, a special play-off was arranged between them and a European team (Wales). So in effect, Africa and Asia together were given 0.5 spots, while Europe was given 9.5 spots.
4 In 1962, Europe was given 8 automatic spots, plus 2 additional spots in the intercontinental play-offs, in effect giving them 9 spots. The two European teams played an African team and an Asian team respectively, and both European teams won. Therefore, 10 European teams played in the finals.
5 In 1966, Africa and Asia were given one place, contested between the winner of a four team Asian tournament and three group winners from the second round of African qualifiers. All 15 African teams subsequently withdrew to protest FIFA's failure to allocate a place to an African team, leaving North Korea to qualify.
6 In 1994, there were two rounds of intercontinental play-offs. First, an Oceanian team played a team from North and Central America and Caribbean, and the winner then played a South American team.
7 From the 2006 qualifiers on, the defending champion no longer has an automatic spot secured.

Qualification competition entrants over timeEdit

The number of teams entering the qualification process and the number of matches played have been steadily growing over time. Although Egypt, an African country, entered qualifying in 1938 and 1954, it was in the European group; thus, the number of teams for Africa is considered to be zero in these years.

Number of teams entering qualification (including automatic qualifiers)
Continental zone 1934
 
(16)
1938
 
(15)
1950
 
(13)
1954
 
(16)
1958
 
(16)
1962
 
(16)
1966
 
(16)
1970
 
(16)
1974
 
(16)
1978
 
(16)
1982
 
(24)
1986
 
(24)
1990
 
(24)
1994
 
(24)
1998
 
(32)
2002
 
 
(32)
2006
 
(32)
2010
 
(32)
2014
 
(32)
2018
 
(32)
2022
 
(32)
2026
 
 
 
(48)
Europe 21 26 19 29 27 30 33 31 33 32 34 33 33 39 50 51 52 53 53 54 55
Africa 3 0 11 6 21 13 24 26 29 29 26 40 38 51 51 53 52 54 54
Asia 2 4 3 5 7 18 22 21 27 26 29 36 42 39 43 43 46 46
Oceania1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 5 7 10 10 12 11 11 11 11
North and Central America
and Caribbean2
4 7 3 5 6 8 10 14 14 17 15 18 16 23 30 35 34 35 35 35 35
South America 4 2 8 6 9 9 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 9 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
Total entrants 32 37 34 45 55 56 74 75 99 107 109 121 116 147 174 199 198 2054 204 210 2115
Teams played3 27 21 19 33 46 49 51 68 90 95 103 110 103 130 168 193 194 2004 203 208 12
Matches played 27 22 26 57 89 92 127 172 226 252 306 308 314 497 643 777 847 853 828 872 11
Goals scored 141 96 121 208 341 325 393 542 620 723 797 801 735 1446 1922 2452 2464 2344 2303 2454 32
Average goals per match 5.22 4.36 4.65 3.65 3.83 3.53 3.09 3.15 2.74 2.87 2.60 2.60 2.34 2.91 2.99 3.16 2.91 2.75 2.81 2.81 2.91
  • 1 Because the Oceania Football Confederation has used the World Cup Qualifiers as a phase of (or as the entire) OFC Nations Cup, there is the possibility that non-FIFA countries may play in matches that double as World Cup qualifiers. In the 2006 qualifiers, New Caledonia were included in the tournament although they were not FIFA members at the date of close of entries. They are, however, included in the 12 nations listed as they joined FIFA during the course of qualification, even though they had been technically eliminated from contention a few days earlier (a similar situation occurred in the entries for 2010, with Montenegro's entry accepted prior to their admission by FIFA). By contrast, Tuvalu competed in the 2007 South Pacific Games football tournament, which doubled as qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup. As they were not FIFA members at the time of the completion of the competition, they are not included in the 11 OFC entrants, although their results counted towards the qualification of other teams.
  • 2 From 1973 to 1989, the CONCACAF Championship and its qualifying tournament determined CONCACAF's entrant in the World Cup. The confederation's champion qualified outright.
  • 3 "Teams played" is the total number of teams that played at least one qualifying match.
  • 4 These numbers included Tuvalu (see note 1) and South Africa. Although South Africa qualified automatically for 2010 as hosts, they competed in the CAF qualifiers, becoming the second hosts to compete in World Cup qualifying and the first to do it since 1934. This is because the Confederation of African Football used its 2010 World Cup qualifiers as the qualifying phase for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, a tournament for which South Africa attempted to qualify.
  • 5 This number includes Qatar. Although Qatar qualified automatically for 2022 as hosts, they compete in the AFC qualifiers, becoming the third hosts to do so. This is because the Asian Football Confederation used its 2022 World Cup qualifiers as the qualifying phase for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, a tournament for which Qatar are attempting to qualify.

First appearance in qualification by teamEdit

Only teams that played at least one match are considered for the purposes of first appearance. Teams that withdrew prior to the qualification, or that qualified to the World Cup by walkover due to other teams' withdrawals, are not considered.

World Cup Debuting teams Successor and renamed teams
Europe South America North, Central America and Caribbean Asia Africa Oceania T CT
 
1934
  Austria
  Belgium
  Bulgaria
  Czechoslovakia[A]
  Estonia
  France
  Germany[B]
  Greece
  Hungary
  Irish Free State[C]
  Italy[D]
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Netherlands
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Spain
  Sweden
   Switzerland
  Yugoslavia[E]
none   Cuba
  Haiti
  Mexico
  United States
  Mandatory Palestine[F]   Egypt[G] none 27 27
 
1938
  Finland
  Latvia
  Norway
none none none none none 3 30
 
1950
  England
  Ireland[H]
  Scotland
  Turkey[I]
  Wales
none none   Syria none none 6 36   Ireland[C]
  Israel[F]
 
1954
  Saar   Brazil[J]
  Chile[K]
  Paraguay[L]
none   Japan[M]
  South Korea
none none 6 42   Northern Ireland[H]
  Republic of Ireland[C]
  West Germany[B]
 
1958
  Denmark
  East Germany
  Iceland
  Soviet Union[N]
  Argentina[O]
  Bolivia[P]
  Colombia[Q]
  Peru[R]
  Uruguay[S]
  Canada
  Costa Rica[T]
  Guatemala
  Territory of Curaçao[U]
  China PR
  Indonesia[V]
  Sudan none 16 58
 
1962
  Cyprus[W]   Ecuador[X]   Dutch Guyana[Y]
  Honduras
none   Ethiopia
  Ghana
  Morocco
  Nigeria
  Tunisia
none 9 67   Netherlands Antilles[U]
 
1966
  Albania   Venezuela[Z]   Jamaica
  Trinidad and Tobago
  North Korea none   Australia 6 73
 
1970
none none   Bermuda
  El Salvador[AA]
none   Algeria[AB]
  Cameroon[AC]
  Libya[AD]
  Rhodesia[AE]
  Senegal[AF]
  Zambia
  New Zealand 9 82
 
1974
  Malta none   Antigua and Barbuda
  Puerto Rico
  Hong Kong
  Iran
  Iraq
  Kuwait
  Malaysia
  South Vietnam[AG]
  Thailand
  Congo
  Dahomey[AH]
  Guinea[AI]
  Ivory Coast
  Kenya
  Lesotho
  Mauritius
  Sierra Leone
  Tanzania
  Togo
  Zaire[AJ]
none 21 103
 
1978
none none   Barbados
  Dominican Republic
  Guyana
  Panama
  Bahrain
  Qatar
  Republic of China[AK]
  Saudi Arabia
  Singapore
  Malawi
  Mauritania
  Niger
  Uganda
  Upper Volta[AL]
none 14 117   Suriname[Y]
 
1982
none none   Grenada   Macau   Gambia
  Liberia[AM]
  Madagascar[AN]
  Mozambique
  Somalia
  Fiji 8 125   Chinese Taipei[AK]
  Zimbabwe[AE]
 
1986
none none none   Bangladesh
  Brunei
  Jordan
  India[AO]
    Nepal
  North Yemen[AP]
  South Yemen
  United Arab Emirates[AQ]
  Angola none 9 134   Benin[AH]
 
1990
none none none   Oman[AR]
  Pakistan
  Gabon[AS] none 3 137   Burkina Faso[AL]
 
1994
  Faroe Islands
  San Marino
none   Nicaragua
  Saint Lucia
  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  Lebanon[AT]
  Sri Lanka[AU]
  Botswana
  Burundi
  Namibia
  South Africa
  Swaziland[AV]
  Solomon Islands
  Tahiti
  Vanuatu
15 152   Germany[B]
  Representation of Czechs and Slovaks[A]
  Russia[N]
  Vietnam[AG]
  Yemen[AP]
 
1998
  Armenia
  Azerbaijan
  Belarus
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Croatia
  Georgia
  Liechtenstein[AW]
  Macedonia[AX]
  Moldova
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  Ukraine
none   Aruba
  Belize
  Cayman Islands
  Dominica
  Saint Kitts and Nevis
  Cambodia
  Kazakhstan
  Kyrgyzstan
  Maldives[AY]
  Philippines[AZ]
  Tajikistan
  Turkmenistan
  Uzbekistan
  Guinea-Bissau
  Rwanda[BA]
  Cook Islands
  Papua New Guinea
  Tonga
  Western Samoa[BB]
31 183   Czech Republic[A]
  DR Congo[AJ]
  FR Yugoslavia[E]
  
2002
  Andorra none   Anguilla
  Bahamas[BC]
  British Virgin Islands
  Montserrat
  Turks and Caicos Islands
  U.S. Virgin Islands
  Guam
  Laos
  Mongolia
  Palestine
  Cape Verde
  Central African Republic[BD]
  Chad
  Djibouti
  Equatorial Guinea
  Eritrea
  Mali[BE]
  São Tomé and Príncipe[BF]
  Seychelles
  American Samoa 21 204   Samoa[BB]
 
2006
none none none   Afghanistan none   New Caledonia 2 206   Serbia and Montenegro[E]
 
2010
  Montenegro none none   Myanmar[BG]
  Timor-Leste
  Comoros   Tuvalu[BH] 5 211   Serbia[E]
 
2014
none none none none none none 0 211   Curaçao[U]
 
2018
  Gibraltar
  Kosovo
none none   Bhutan[BI]   South Sudan none 4 215
 
2022
none none none none none none 0 215   Eswatini[AV]
  North Macedonia[AX]
Notes
  1. ^ a b c The Czechoslovakia team was officially renamed as the Representation of Czechs and Slovaks during the 1994 qualification, and was then succeeded by the Czech Republic from the 1998 qualification.
  2. ^ a b c Germany was succeeded from the 1954 qualification by West Germany, which in turn was succeeded by the reunified Germany from the 1994 qualification.
  3. ^ a b c The Irish Free State was succeeded in the 1950 qualification by Ireland, which became officially known as the Republic of Ireland from the 1954 qualification.
  4. ^ Italy had to qualify for the tournament despite being the host.
  5. ^ a b c d Yugoslavia was succeeded from the 1998 qualification by FR Yugoslavia, which was renamed as Serbia and Montenegro for the 2006 qualification and was then succeeded by Serbia from the 2010 qualification.
  6. ^ a b Mandatory Palestine was succeeded by Israel from the 1950 qualification.
  7. ^ Egypt was later succeeded by the   United Arab Republic, a political union between Egypt and Syria, which entered the 1962 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches. Later, Egypt entered the 1966 qualification independently but still under the name "United Arab Republic", but withdrew yet again before playing any matches. The team's first appearance after it changed its name back to Egypt came in 1974.
  8. ^ a b Ireland was succeeded by Northern Ireland from the 1954 qualification.
  9. ^ Turkey entered the 1934 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  10. ^ Brazil entered the 1934 and 1938 qualifications, but on both occasions qualified by walkover due to other teams' withdrawals. It also qualified automatically for the 1950 World Cup as host.
  11. ^ Chile entered the 1934 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches. It also entered the 1950 qualification, but qualified by walkover due to other teams' withdrawals.
  12. ^ Paraguay entered the 1950 qualification, but qualified by walkover due to other teams' withdrawals.
  13. ^ Japan entered the 1938 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  14. ^ a b The Soviet Union was succeeded by Russia from the 1994 qualification.
  15. ^ Argentina entered the 1934 qualification, but qualified by walkover due to other teams' withdrawals. It also entered the 1938 and 1950 qualifications, but on both occasions withdrew before playing any matches.
  16. ^ Bolivia entered the 1950 qualification, but qualified by walkover due to other teams' withdrawals.
  17. ^ Colombia entered the 1938 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  18. ^ Peru entered the 1934, 1950 and 1954 qualifications, but on all three occasions withdrew before playing any matches.
  19. ^ Uruguay entered the 1950 qualification, but qualified by walkover due to other teams' withdrawals. It also qualified automatically for the 1954 World Cup as defending champion.
  20. ^ Costa Rica entered the 1938 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  21. ^ a b c The Territory of Curaçao was succeeded from the 1962 qualification by the Netherlands Antilles, which in turn was succeeded by Curaçao from the 2014 qualification.
  22. ^ Indonesia entered the 1938 qualification as the   Dutch East Indies, but qualified by walkover due to other teams' withdrawals. It also entered the 1950 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  23. ^ Cyprus entered the 1958 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  24. ^ Ecuador entered the 1950 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  25. ^ a b Dutch Guyana entered the 1938 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches. It was succeeded by Suriname from the 1978 qualification.
  26. ^ Venezuela entered the 1958 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  27. ^ El Salvador entered the 1938 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  28. ^ Algeria entered the 1966 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  29. ^ Cameroon entered the 1966 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  30. ^ Libya entered the 1966 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  31. ^ a b Rhodesia was succeeded by Zimbabwe from the 1982 qualification.
  32. ^ Senegal entered the 1966 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  33. ^ a b South Vietnam was succeeded by Vietnam from the 1994 qualification.
  34. ^ a b Dahomey was renamed as Benin from the 1986 qualification.
  35. ^ Guinea entered the 1966 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  36. ^ a b Zaire was renamed as DR Congo during the 1998 qualification.
  37. ^ a b The Republic of China entered the 1954 and 1958 qualifications, but on both occasions withdrew before playing any matches. It became officially known as Chinese Taipei from the 1982 qualification.
  38. ^ a b Upper Volta was renamed as Burkina Faso from the 1990 qualification.
  39. ^ Liberia entered the 1966 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  40. ^ Madagascar entered the 1974 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  41. ^ India entered the 1950 qualification, but qualified by walkover due to other teams' withdrawals, and subsequently withdrew from participation in the finals. It also entered the 1974 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  42. ^ a b North Yemen was succeeded by Yemen from the 1994 qualification.
  43. ^ The United Arab Emirates entered the 1978 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  44. ^ Oman entered the 1986 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  45. ^ Gabon entered the 1966 and 1974 qualifications, but on both occasions withdrew before playing any matches.
  46. ^ Lebanon entered but was disqualified during the 1986 qualification, and the team's matches from that campaign were annulled.
  47. ^ Sri Lanka entered the 1974 (as   Ceylon) and 1978 qualifications, but on both occasions withdrew before playing any matches.
  48. ^ a b Swaziland was renamed as Eswatini from the 2022 qualification.
  49. ^ Liechtenstein entered the 1994 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  50. ^ a b Macedonia was renamed as North Macedonia from the 2022 qualification.
  51. ^ The Maldives entered the 1990 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  52. ^ The Philippines entered the 1950 and 1974 qualifications, but on both occasions withdrew before playing any matches.
  53. ^ Rwanda entered the 1990 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  54. ^ a b Western Samoa entered the 1994 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches. It was renamed as Samoa from the 2002 qualification.
  55. ^ The Bahamas entered the 1998 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  56. ^ The Central African Republic entered the 1978 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches. It also entered the 1982 qualification, but was disqualified before playing any matches.
  57. ^ Mali entered the 1966, 1994 and 1998 qualifications, but on all three occasions withdrew before playing any matches.
  58. ^ São Tomé and Príncipe entered the 1994 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.
  59. ^ Myanmar entered the 1950 (as   Burma), 1994 and 2002 qualifications, but on all three occasions withdrew before playing any matches.
  60. ^ Tuvalu was not a member of FIFA at the time of the 2006 qualification and had not entered the FIFA World Cup, although the matches in the football tournament of the South Pacific Games did count towards the qualification tournament for the OFC and Tuvalu's results did count in determining advancement from this stage.
  61. ^ Bhutan entered the 2010 qualification, but withdrew before playing any matches.

National teams results in World Cup preliminary competition (1934–2022)Edit

Legend
Team has won the World Cup
Team has qualified for the main tournament through a qualifying process
Team has qualified for the main tournament only by walkover (Cuba, and Indonesia as Dutch East Indies)
Team has qualified for the main tournament by walkover but has not participated there because it withdrew (India)
Team has not qualified for the main tournament but is assured of an automatic spot in 2022 as host (Qatar)
Team has not qualified for the main tournament
Defunct team that qualified for the main tournament (East Germany)
Defunct team that never qualified for the main tournament (Saar and South Yemen)
Team is not a member of FIFA and is not eligible for the main tournament (Tuvalu)

Teams in bold are currently participating or are yet to start in the 2022 qualification. The table is updated to the matches played in September 2019.

No.[n 1] Team App's[n 2] Overall qualification record Points[n 3] Confederation
Pld W D L GF GA GD Total Avg
1   Mexico 16 175 113 37 25 436 126 +310 376 2.149 CONCACAF
2   Costa Rica 16 172 85 43 44 295 176 +119 298 1.733 CONCACAF
3   Australia 15 142 83 36 23 365 113 +252 285 2.007 AFC
4   South Korea 15 136 83 36 17 266 86 +180 285 2.096 AFC
5   Iran 11 129 79 34 16 269 81 +188 271 2.101 AFC
6   Netherlands 18 125 82 24 19 296 93 +203 270 2.160 UEFA
7   Spain 18 117 81 25 11 276 76 +200 268 2.291 UEFA
8   United States 18 154 77 36 41 266 181 +85 267 1.734 CONCACAF
9   Sweden 19 131 80 21 30 267 121 +146 261 1.992 UEFA
10   Portugal 20 139 76 33 30 262 139 +123 261 1.878 UEFA
11   Argentina 13 136 75 36 25 235 127 +108 261 1.919 CONMEBOL
12   Serbia (2010—)
  Serbia and Montenegro (2006)
  FR Yugoslavia (1998–2002)
  SFR Yugoslavia (1950–1990)
  Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1934–1938)
19 128 75 31 22 269 114 +155 256 2.000 UEFA
13   Belgium 19 133 77 25 31 277 141 +136 256 1.925 UEFA
14   Czech Republic (1998—)
  Representation of Czechs and Slovaks (1994)
  Czechoslovakia (1934–1994)
19 138 75 29 34 266 116 +150 254 1.841 UEFA
15   England 16 112 76 25 11 275 67 +208 253 2.259 UEFA
16   Uruguay 16 154 69 42 43 218 164 +54 249 1.617 CONMEBOL
17   Italy 16 109 74 26 9 221 69 +152 248 2.275 UEFA
18   Honduras 14 150 69 40 41 255 173 +82 247 1.647 CONCACAF
19   Russia (1994—)
  Soviet Union (1958–1990)
15 115 73 23 19 227 75 +152 242 2.104 UEFA
20   Germany (1994—)
  West Germany (1954–1990)
  Germany (1934–1938)
14 94 74 18 2 292 70 +222 240 2.553 UEFA
21   Brazil 12 110 68 30 12 240 70 +170 234 2.127 CONMEBOL
22   Japan 15 121 69 26 26 249 85 +164 233 1.926 AFC
23   Saudi Arabia 12 119 68 29 22 234 95 +139 233 1.958 AFC
24   Paraguay 17 154 66 30 58 201 189 +12 228 1.481 CONMEBOL
25   Romania 17 128 67 26 35 223 134 +89 227 1.773 UEFA
26    Switzerland 19 132 64 33 35 205 146 +59 225 1.705 UEFA
27   France 17 111 65 23 23 216 88 +128 218 1.964 UEFA
28   China PR 12 109 67 16 26 235 74 +161 217 1.991 AFC
29   El Salvador 13 140 63 28 49 233 168 +65 217 1.550 CONCACAF
30   Colombia 16 152 57 46 49 180 159 +21 217 1.428 CONMEBOL
31   Scotland 18 125 62 28 35 192 136 +56 214 1.712 UEFA
32   Chile 15 146 61 29 56 217 195 +22 212 1.452 CONMEBOL
33   Republic of Ireland (1954—)
  Ireland (1950)
  Irish Free State (1934–1938)
20 141 56 43 42 199 169 +30 211 1.496 UEFA
34   Bulgaria 19 129 60 27 42 209 177 +32 207 1.605 UEFA
35   Austria 18 123 59 28 36 212 136 +76 205 1.667 UEFA
36   Denmark 15 122 58 30 34 212 141 +71 204 1.672 UEFA
37   Nigeria 14 104 58 29 17 175 80 +95 203 1.952 CAF
38   Poland 18 117 60 21 36 228 143 +85 201 1.718 UEFA
39   Hungary 18 122 58 26 38 216 163 +53 200 1.639 UEFA
40   Tunisia 14 104 57 28 19 180 84 +96 199 1.913 CAF
41   Trinidad and Tobago 14 137 55 27 55 201 183 +18 192 1.401 CONCACAF
42   Morocco 14 111 51 38 22 150 80 +70 191 1.721 CAF
43   Greece 19 128 54 29 45 159 171 −12 191 1.492 UEFA
44   Guatemala 15 122 49 31 42 194 150 +44 178 1.459 CONCACAF
45   Canada 14 117 48 34 35 161 136 +25 178 1.521 CONCACAF
46   New Zealand 13 96 53 18 25 221 99 +122 177 1.844 OFC
47   Qatar 12 114 51 23 40 187 121 +66 176 1.544 AFC
48   Cameroon 13 87 51 22 14 144 66 +78 175 2.011 CAF
49   Egypt 14 93 52 19 22 165 89 +76 175 1.882 CAF
50   Ecuador 15 143 47 33 63 169 202 −33 174 1.217 CONMEBOL
51   Iraq 12 102 48 25 29 202 104 +98 169 1.657 AFC
52   Uzbekistan 7 95 49 19 27 177 97 +80 166 1.747 AFC
53   Peru 16 149 43 37 69 164 211 −47 166 1.114 CONMEBOL
54   Turkey 17 128 47 24 57 176 187 −11 165 1.289 UEFA
55   Northern Ireland (1954—)
  Ireland (1950)
18 134 43 36 55 149 161 −12 165 1.231 UEFA
56   Norway 18 126 44 30 52 170 178 −8 162 1.286 UEFA
57   Kuwait 13 95 49 14 32 167 95 +72 161 1.695 AFC
58   Zambia 13 96 45 20 31 145 88 +57 155 1.615 CAF
59   Israel (1950—)
  Mandatory Palestine (1934–1938)
20 122 40 34 48 166 178 −12 154 1.262 UEFA
60   United Arab Emirates 10 98 43 20 35 165 112 +53 149 1.520 AFC
61   Ivory Coast 11 78 41 25 12 144 67 +77 148 1.897 CAF
62   Bolivia 16 150 39 29 82 177 284 −107 146 0.973 CONMEBOL
63   Algeria 13 89 40 23 26 126 91 +35 143 1.607 CAF
64   Ghana 13 83 40 22 21 132 66 +66 142 1.711 CAF
65   North Korea 11 85 41 19 25 119 77 +42 142 1.671 AFC
66   Jamaica 11 104 37 27 40 115 132 −17 138 1.327 CONCACAF
67   Wales 18 120 37 26 57 151 170 −19 137 1.142 UEFA
68   Haiti 14 90 39 17 34 152 120 +32 134 1.489 CONCACAF
69   Syria 15 85 37 20 28 179 99 +80 131 1.541 AFC
70   Ukraine 6 70 35 22 13 108 52 +56 127 1.814 UEFA
71   Croatia 6 62 36 18 8 108 47 +61 126 2.032 UEFA
72   DR Congo (1998—)
  Zaire (1974–1998)
10 76 36 17 23 128 84 +44 125 1.645 CAF
73   Bahrain 11 90 32 26 32 107 95 +12 122 1.356 AFC
74   Finland 19 129 32 23 74 134 287 −153 119 0.922 UEFA
75   Guinea 12 75 35 10 30 114 97 +17 115 1.533 CAF
76   Slovakia 6 64 32 14 18 110 64 +46 110 1.719 UEFA
77   Oman 9 71 30 19 22 117 71 +46 109 1.535 AFC
78   Panama 11 94 27 22 45 104 157 −53 103 1.096 CONCACAF
79   Iceland 13 106 28 19 59 116 215 −99 103 0.972 UEFA
80   Jordan 10 71 29 14 28 107 93 +14 101 1.423 AFC
81   Senegal 12 63 26 22 15 90 56 +34 100 1.587 CAF
82   Angola 10 63 26 22 15 82 58 +24 100 1.587 CAF
83   Venezuela 13 140 25 25 90 120 314 −194 100 0.714 CONMEBOL
84   Bosnia and Herzegovina 6 58 28 10 20 112 69 +43 94 1.621 UEFA
85   Thailand 13 91 25 19 47 119 156 −37 94 1.033 AFC
86   South Africa 7 50 28 8 14 66 45 +21 92 1.840 CAF
87   Slovenia 6 62 25 15 22 81 68 +13 90 1.452 UEFA
88   Burkina Faso (1990—)
  Upper Volta (1978)
8 60 26 10 24 87 78 +9 88 1.467 CAF
89   Kenya 12 68 23 16 29 77 91 −14 85 1.250 CAF
90   Hong Kong 13 75 23 15 37 92 131 −39 84 1.120 AFC
91   Zimbabwe (1982—)
  Rhodesia (1970)
11 63 22 16 25 65 77 −12 82 1.302 CAF
92   Togo 11 65 22 15 28 71 87 −16 81 1.246 CAF
93   Cuba 12 68 20 20 28 85 102 −17 80 1.176 CONCACAF
94   Libya 10 56 21 13 22 63 62 +1 76 1.357 CAF
95   Congo 9 62 21 13 28 70 83 −13 76 1.226 CAF
96   East Germany 9 47 22 8 17 87 65 +22 74 1.574 defunct
97   Gabon 8 57 21 11 25 57 65 −8 74 1.298 CAF
98   Malaysia 13 63 20 13 30 89 116 −27 73 1.159 AFC
99   Indonesia (1958—)
  Dutch East Indies (1938)
13 73 19 16 38 89 149 −60 73 1.000 AFC
100   Solomon Islands 7 54 21 9 24 112 113 −1 72 1.333 OFC
101   Latvia 8 75 19 15 41 82 130 −48 72 0.960 UEFA
102   Lebanon 8 57 19 14 24 87 79 +8 71 1.246 AFC
103   Suriname (1978—)
  Dutch Guyana (1962–1974)
14 65 19 14 32 91 111 −20 71 1.092 CONCACAF
104   Singapore 12 70 20 11 39 78 124 −46 71 1.014 AFC
105   Fiji 9 53 20 10 23 111 98 +13 70 1.321 OFC
106   Albania 12 104 18 14 72 72 188 −116 68 0.654 UEFA
107   Lithuania 9 73 17 16 40 59 111 −52 67 0.918 UEFA
108   Sudan 13 66 16 18 32 59 102 −43 66 1.000 CAF
109   New Caledonia 4 35 18 8 9 87 36 +51 62 1.771 OFC
110   Malawi 11 60 15 17 28 57 83 −26 62 1.033 CAF
111   Liberia 10 60 16 12 32 42 86 −44 60 1.000 CAF
112   Turkmenistan 7 42 18 5 19 66 61 +5 59 1.405 AFC
113   Tahiti 7 43 17 8 18 66 81 −15 59 1.372 OFC
114   Estonia 9 76 16 11 49 65 166 −101 59 0.776 UEFA
115   Cyprus 15 114 15 13 86 87 299 −212 58 0.509 UEFA
116   Curaçao (2014—)
  Netherlands Antilles (1962–2010)
  Territory of Curaçao (1958)
16 60 13 18 29 53 116 −63 57 0.950 CONCACAF
117   Bermuda 7 36 15 9 12 76 46 +30 54 1.500 CONCACAF
118   Uganda 9 42 15 9 18 41 57 −16 54 1.286 CAF
119   North Macedonia (2022—)
  Macedonia (1998–2018)
6 60 14 12 34 71 102 −31 54 0.900 UEFA
120   Mali 5 40 14 11 15 50 52 −2 53 1.325 CAF
121   Tajikistan 7 38 15 7 16 65 55 +10 52 1.368 AFC
122   Belarus 6 58 13 12 33 61 97 −36 51 0.879 UEFA
123   Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 7 58 14 8 36 77 170 −93 50 0.862 CONCACAF
124   Yemen (1994—)
  North Yemen (1986–1990)
10 52 12 13 27 56 84 −28 49 0.942 AFC
125   Kazakhstan 6 60 12 11 37 71 128 −57 47 0.783 UEFA
126   Benin (1986—)
  Dahomey (1974)
8 44 13 7 24 46 89 −43 46 1.045 CAF
127   Sierra Leone 11 47 12 9 26 41 72 −31 45 0.957 CAF
128   Madagascar 9 36 12 8 16 45 51 −6 44 1.222 CAF
129   Antigua and Barbuda 10 42 13 5 24 66 93 −27 44 1.048 CONCACAF
130   Armenia 6 62 10 14 38 52 122 −70 44 0.710 UEFA
131   Georgia 6 56 9 16 31 51 89 −38 43 0.768 UEFA
132   Cape Verde 5 34 13 3 18 34 46 −12 42 1.235 CAF
133   Ethiopia 12 43 10 12 21 48 66 −18 42 0.977 CAF
134   Namibia 8 44 11 9 24 41 83 −42 42 0.955 CAF
135   India 9 45 10 12 23 44 89 −45 42 0.933 AFC
136   Saint Kitts and Nevis 6 30 11 8 11 64 54 +10 41 1.367 CONCACAF
137   Montenegro 3 30 10 10 10 47 43 +4 40 1.333 UEFA
138   Kyrgyzstan 7 32 12 4 16 38 50 −12 40 1.250 AFC
139   Vanuatu 7 37 12 3 22 76 89 −13 39 1.054 OFC
140   Mozambique 9 36 10 8 18 33 50 −17 38 1.056 CAF
141   Vietnam (1994—)
  South Vietnam (1974)
9 42 11 4 27 43 81 −38 37 0.881 AFC
142   Palestine 6 28 10 6 12 51 38 +13 36 1.286 AFC
143   Botswana 7 36 10 6 20 33 53 −20 36 1.000 CAF
144   Bangladesh 10 51 10 6 35 34 123 −89 36 0.706 AFC
145   Dominican Republic 8 29 10 5 14 42 50 −8 35 1.207 CONCACAF
146   Azerbaijan 6 58 7 14 37 29 104 −75 35 0.603 UEFA
147   Barbados 8 37 10 4 23 35 73 −38 34 0.919 CONCACAF
148   Rwanda 7 38 8 9 21 39 54 −15 33 0.868 CAF
149   Tanzania 10 35 7 12 16 37 52 −15 33 0.943 CAF
150   Niger 7 30 9 5 16 27 48 −21 32 1.067 CAF
151   Samoa (2002—)
  Western Samoa (1998)
6 26 9 1 16 37 88 −51 28 1.077 OFC
152   Faroe Islands 7 70 7 7 56 34 184 −150 28 0.400 UEFA
153   Papua New Guinea 4 22 7 6 9 43 36 +7 27 1.227 OFC
154   Belize 6 26 7 6 13 32 54 −22 27 1.038 CONCACAF
155   Guyana 10 34 7 6 21 36 81 −45 27 0.794 CONCACAF
156   Moldova 6 58 5 12 41 35 115 −80 27 0.466 UEFA
157   Burundi 7 22 7 5 10 19 28 −9 26 1.182 CAF
158   Maldives 7 34 8 2 24 37 125 −88 26 0.765 AFC
159   Luxembourg 20 134 5 10 119 69 433 −364 25 0.187 UEFA
160   Grenada 7 25 7 3 15 49 54 −5 24 0.960 CONCACAF
161   Gambia 9 26 6 6 14 21 39 −18 24 0.923 CAF
162   Nicaragua 7 22 7 1 14 25 44 −19 22 1.000 CONCACAF
163   Saint Lucia 7 24 7 1 16 32 62 −30 22 0.917 CONCACAF
164   Tonga 6 22 7 1 14 23 82 −59 22 1.000 OFC
165   Chinese Taipei (1982—)
  Republic of China (1978)
12 60 6 4 50 36 204 −168 22 0.367 AFC
166   Puerto Rico 9 25 5 6 14 22 55 −33 21 0.840 CONCACAF
167   Chad 6 18 6 2 10 16 26 −10 20 1.111 CAF
168     Nepal 8 32 5 4 23 25 107 −82 19 0.594 AFC
169   Equatorial Guinea 6 22 5 3 14 19 37 −18 18 0.818 CAF
170   Philippines 5 23 5 3 15 22 63 −41 18 0.783 AFC
171   Sri Lanka 8 35 4 6 25 24 79 −55 18 0.514 AFC
172   Eswatini (2022—)
  Swaziland (1994–2018)
8 21 4 5 12 16 41 −25 17 0.810 CAF
173   Mongolia 6 18 5 1 12 15 49 −34 16 0.889 AFC
174   Lesotho 8 26 2 10 14 15 52 −37 16 0.615 CAF
175   Cambodia 6 30 4 4 22 21 93 −72 16 0.533 AFC
176   Malta 12 102 2 10 90 33 300 −267 16 0.157 UEFA
177   Bahamas 5 14 4 3 7 20 43 −23 15 1.071 CONCACAF
178   Macau 10 37 4 2 31 16 168 −152 14 0.378 AFC
179   Guinea-Bissau 7 14 3 4 7 11 20 −9 13 0.929 CAF
180   Aruba 6 16 4 1 11 23 42 −19 13 0.812 CONCACAF
181   Dominica 6 20 3 4 13 15 54 −39 13 0.650 CONCACAF
182   Afghanistan 5 16 4 1 11 11 51 −40 13 0.812 AFC
183   Laos 5 28 3 4 21 23 125 −102 13 0.464 AFC
184   Liechtenstein 6 60 2 6 52 23 185 −162 12 0.200 UEFA
185   Myanmar 4 16 3 2 11 11 41 −30 11 0.687 AFC
186   Cook Islands 6 20 3 1 16 16 63 −47 10 0.500 OFC
187   Guam 3 14 3 1 10 9 57 −48 10 0.714 AFC
188   American Samoa 5 18 3 1 14 11 136 −125 10 0.556 OFC
189   Mauritania 6 16 2 3 11 13 31 −18 9 0.562 CAF
190   Bhutan 2 12 3 0 9 9 58 −49 9 0.750 AFC
191   U.S. Virgin Islands 5 15 3 0 12 8 80 −72 9 0.600 CONCACAF
192   Andorra 5 52 2 3 47 14 162 −148 9 0.173 UEFA
193   Djibouti 5 15 2 2 11 8 57 −49 8 0.533 CAF
194   São Tomé and Príncipe 5 10 2 1 7 5 25 −20 7 0.700 CAF
195   Somalia 7 13 1 3 9 3 29 −26 6 0.462 CAF
196   Mauritius 8 20 1 3 16 14 52 −38 6 0.300 CAF
197   Brunei 4 16 2 0 14 5 62 −57 6 0.375 AFC
198   Cayman Islands 6 16 0 5 11 6 35 −29 5 0.313 CONCACAF
199   Saar 1 4 1 1 2 4 8 −4 4 1.000 defunct
200   Central African Republic 3 10 1 1 8 8 21 −13 4 0.400 CAF
201   Comoros 4 10 0 4 6 5 21 −16 4 0.400 CAF
202   Pakistan 9 32 0 4 28 13 122 −109 4 0.125 AFC
203   Eritrea 5 10 0 3 7 4 20 −16 3 0.300 CAF
204   British Virgin Islands 5 10 0 3 7 7 34 −27 3 0.300 CONCACAF
205   Turks and Caicos Islands 5 10 1 0 9 6 46 −40 3 0.300 CONCACAF
206   South Sudan 2 4 0 2 2 2 7 −5 2 0.500 CAF
207   Seychelles 6 16 0 2 14 6 46 −40 2 0.125 CAF
208   San Marino 7 66 0 2 64 11 310 −299 2 0.030 UEFA
209   South Yemen 1 2 0 1 1 4 7 −3 1 0.500 defunct
210   Tuvalu 1 4 0 1 3 2 22 −20 1 0.250 OFC
211   Kosovo 1 10 0 1 9 3 24 −21 1 0.100 UEFA
212   Montserrat 5 9 0 1 8 8 45 −37 1 0.111 CONCACAF
213   Anguilla 5 10 0 1 9 2 41 −39 1 0.100 CONCACAF
214   Gibraltar 1 10 0 0 10 3 47 −44 0 0.000 UEFA
215   Timor-Leste 4 16 0 0 16 6 80 −74 0 0.000 AFC
Footnotes
  1. ^ Teams are ranked by total points, then by goal difference, then by goals scored. Note that this column does not represent any official rankings.
  2. ^ Only qualifying campaigns are counted where the team played at least one match that was not annulled.
  3. ^ The three points for a win system is used.

Top scorers in preliminary competition (1934–2022)Edit

Players in bold are still active at international level.

# Nation Player Goals Games
played
Goal
ratio
Qualification tournaments
1   Carlos Ruiz[3] 39 47 0.75 2002 (8 goals), 2006 (10), 2010 (6), 2014 (6), 2018 (9)
2   Ali Daei[4] 35 50 0.70 1994 (7 goals), 1998 (9), 2002 (10), 2006 (9)
3   Cristiano Ronaldo[5] 30 38 0.79 2006 (7 goals), 2014 (8), 2018 (15)
4   Karim Bagheri[6] 28 29 0.97 1998 (19 goals), 2002 (8), 2010 (1)
5   Kazuyoshi Miura[7] 27 25 1.08 1994 (13 goals), 1998 (14)
6   Andriy Shevchenko[8] 26 40 0.65 1998 (4 goals), 2002 (10), 2006 (6), 2010 (6)
7   Tim Cahill[9] 25 36 0.69 2006 (7 goals), 2010 (4), 2014 (3), 2018 (11)
8   Carlos Pavón[10] 25 37 0.68 1998 (2 goals), 2002 (15), 2006 (1), 2010 (7)
9   Edin Džeko[11] 24 31 0.77 2010 (9 goals), 2014 (10), 2018 (5)
10   Jared Borgetti[12] 23 24 0.96 2002 (6 goals), 2006 (14), 2010 (3)
11   Robert Lewandowski[13] 21 28 0.75 2010 (2 goals), 2014 (3), 2018 (16)
12   Paulo Wanchope[14] 21 37 0.57 1998 (6 goals), 2002 (7), 2006 (8)
13   Lionel Messi[15] 21 45 0.47 2010 (4 goals), 2014 (10), 2018 (7)
14   Luis Suárez[16] 21 48 0.44 2010 (5 goals), 2014 (11), 2018 (5)
15   Archie Thompson[17] 20 15 1.33 2002 (16 goals), 2006 (2), 2014 (2)
16   Stern John[18] 20 49 0.41 1998 (3 goals), 2002 (3), 2006 (12), 2010 (2)
17   Vaughan Coveny[19] 19 19 1.00 1998 (4 goals), 2002 (9), 2006 (6)
18   Emmanuel Sanon[20] 19 20 0.95 1974 (11 goals), 1978 (8)
19   Pauleta[21] 19 24 0.79 2002 (8 goals), 2006 (11)
20   Zlatan Ibrahimović[22] 19 29 0.66 2002 (1 goal), 2006 (8), 2010 (2), 2014 (8)
21   Hernán Crespo[23] 19 33 0.58 1998 (3 goals), 2002 (9), 2006 (7)
22   Didier Drogba[24] 18 19 0.95 2006 (9 goals), 2010 (6), 2014 (3)
23   Moumouni Dagano[25] 18 24 0.75 2002 (1 goal), 2006 (5), 2010 (12)
24   Samuel Eto'o[26] 18 29 0.62 2002 (3 goals), 2006 (4), 2010 (9), 2014 (2)
25   Raúl Díaz Arce[27] 18 29 0.62 1994 (2 goals), 1998 (9), 2002 (7)
26   Marcelo Salas[28] 18 32 0.56 1998 (11 goals), 2002 (4), 2006 (1), 2010 (2)
27   Robbie Keane[29] 18 37 0.49 2002 (2 goals), 2006 (4), 2010 (6), 2014 (6)
28   Clint Dempsey[30] 18 43 0.42 2010 (5 goals), 2014 (8), 2018 (5)
29   Iván Zamorano[31] 17 11 1.54 1990 (1 goal), 1998 (12), 2002 (4)
30   Deon McCaulay[32] 17 16 1.06 2010 (2 goals), 2014 (11), 2018 (4)
31   Yang Xu[33] 17 17 1.00 2014 (4 goals), 2018 (8), 2022 (5)
32   Mohammad Al-Sahlawi[34] 17 17 1.00 2014 (1 goal), 2018 (16)
33   Kubilay Türkyilmaz[35] 17 19 0.89 1990 (5 goals), 1994 (1), 1998 (4), 2002 (7)
34   Dimitar Berbatov[36] 17 24 0.71 2002 (6 goals), 2006 (8), 2010 (5)
35   Alexander Frei[37] 17 25 0.68 2002 (5 goals), 2006 (7), 2010 (5)
36   Ahmed Khalil[38] 17 29 0.58 2014 (1 goal), 2018 (16)
37   Álvaro Saborío[39] 17 41 0.41 2006 (3 goals), 2010 (6), 2014 (8)

(updated as of FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers)

Current formatEdit

Currently, 32 places are available in the final tournament until 2022. One of them is reserved for the host nation, but if two or more nations co-host the competition, each is awarded a place.

From 1934 to 2002, one berth was reserved for the winners of the previous World Cup, but in November 2001, FIFA announced that the defending champion would no longer get automatic entry to the subsequent tournament, starting with the 2006 finals. This decision was made to address the issue of the returning champions being at a disadvantage to their fellow competitors due to having not played a competitive match in the previous two years.[40]

The problem was amply demonstrated at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, as returning champions France tumbled out in the first round, finishing bottom of their group without scoring a single goal. 2002 winner Brazil qualified for 2006 at the top of their qualifiers group, but Italy, defending champions from 2006, finished bottom of their group in 2010, despite playing in the qualifying matches. At Brazil 2014, 2010 champions Spain finished third in their group and failed to advance to the Round of 16, despite having qualified as first in their group.

FIFA decides beforehand the number of spots awarded to each of the continental zones. For the 2022 World Cup, the following numbers were used:[41]

  • UEFA (Europe) – 13 berths
  • CAF (Africa) – 5 berths
  • AFC (Asia) – 4 berths, plus the host Qatar
  • CONMEBOL (South America) – 4 berths
  • CONCACAF (North and Central America and Caribbean) – 3 berths
  • 2 berths for the winners of intercontinental play-offs between the best team from the OFC (Oceania), as well as additional teams from the AFC, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF. The pairings for these play-offs will be determined by an open draw.

The number of berths allocated per continent is widely debated, with the main point of contention being the extent to which berths should be allocated to regions based on sheer population vs. talent. A historically weaker continent, Africa has called for more places, as they are allocated only five in comparison to Europe's 13.[42]

In early October 2016, it was announced that the World Cup would have featured 40 teams starting with the 2026 tournament,[43] then FIFA President Gianni Infantino stated his support for a 48-team World Cup,[44] mainly to address African concerns. On 10 January 2017, the FIFA Council voted unanimously to expand the World Cup to a 48 team tournament that will open with a group stage consisting of 16 groups of three teams, with two teams progressing from each group to a knockout tournament starting with a round of 32.[45] The new format for the qualifying process has yet to be confirmed, other than a play-off tournament that consists of one team from each confederation (except UEFA) and one additional team from the confederation of the host country for the last two World Cup berths.[46]

These numbers vary slightly between tournaments (see above).

Qualification in all zones ends at approximately the same time, in September–November of the year preceding the finals. For 2022, qualification will end in March, eight months preceding the Qatar tournament.

The formats of the qualification tournaments differ between confederations and over time. The systems used in 2022, except for Oceania, are outlined below.

AfricaEdit

The CAF qualification process reverted to the format used for the 2014 qualification. It will begin with one preliminary round to narrow the field of 28 entrants to 14 teams in September 2019.

The group stage consists of 10 groups of four, with the group winners advancing to the two-legged, home-and-away third round. The five winners advance to the World Cup finals.

AsiaEdit

Qualifying was altered significantly from the 2014 method, with changes to the structure of the preliminary rounds – which were held before the AFC's main draw. One home-and-away preliminary round reduced the 12 weakest entrants to six, which then joined the 34 strongest sides in eight groups of five, with the winners and 4 best runners-up advancing to the final group stage, comprising two 6-team groups. If Qatar is among the group winners or runners-up, only the seven other group winners will advance and the fifth-best group runners-up will enter instead. The winners and runners-up of the two final groups of six advance to the World Cup finals with the two third-placed sides playing off for the right to play in an inter-confederation play-off for a final World Cup spot. The first two rounds also act as the qualifiers for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.[47]

A total of 24 teams eliminated from World Cup qualification in the second round compete in the third round of 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualification (which is separate from the third round of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification), where they will be divided into six groups of four teams and compete for the remaining slots of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. The 24 teams consist of the 16 highest ranked teams eliminated in the second round, and the eight teams that advanced from the play-off round of 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualification which are contested by the remaining 12 teams eliminated in the second round.[48]

EuropeEdit

The European qualification may be changed from the 2010 to 2018 systems. The 55 national teams will be divided into five groups of six teams and five groups of five, with the group winners qualifying directly to the finals.

The introduction of the new UEFA Nations League is likely to change the qualifying format, although this has yet to be confirmed. One suggestion is to have two teams based on Nations League performance join the group runners-up to make it 12 teams playing two series of home-and-away ties for the remaining three places.

North and Central America and CaribbeanEdit

The 2022 CONCACAF qualification process changed significantly from the 2018 qualification cycle. There are two separate preliminary group stages, one for the six highest-ranked teams and another for the 29 lowest-ranked teams, to be based on the June 2020 FIFA rankings. The top-seeded round – still referred to as the "hexagonal" because there are six teams involved – will see the top three teams advance to the World Cup finals, while the fourth-placed side will enter a play-off against the winner of the lower-seeded knockout phase for a spot in the inter-continental play-offs.

The lower-seeded round will have the remaining 29 teams divided into five groups of four teams and three groups of three to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The winners of each group will advance to a knockout phase, each of the quarterfinals, semifinals, and final to be played in a two-legged home-and-away series. The winner of the knockout phase will advance to a play-off against the fourth-placed team of the top-seeded round for a spot in the inter-confederation play-offs.

OceaniaEdit

Qualification in Oceania was held as part of a further competition. The first stage took place with one group of four lowest ranked teams and the winner advanced to the second stage (which also acted as the 2016 OFC Nations Cup). In the second stage the top three teams advanced to the third round, among them Nations Cup champions New Zealand. Two groups of three teams contested the third round, or final group stage, and the winners of each group entered a two-leg final. The winners of this final advanced to an inter-confederation play-off for a World Cup spot.

South AmericaEdit

As in recent qualification series CONMEBOL qualification consists of a single group of all entrants. Unlike previous qualifying tournaments where the fixtures were pre-determined, the fixtures will be determined by a draw, to be held as part of CONMEBOL's preliminary draw, on an unknown date.[49]

The top 4 teams from the 10-team group advance to the World Cup finals, while the fifth placed team enters an inter-confederation play-off for a World Cup spot.

Intercontinental play-offsEdit

Like the previous 2018 tournament, the pairings for the two play-offs will be determined by an open draw on an unknown date. Intercontinental play-offs are played as home-and-away ties.

Qualification tournament rulesEdit

Qualification tournaments generally consist of a number of stages, made up of groups or knock-out ties.

GroupsEdit

In all group tournaments, three points are awarded for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss. FIFA has set the order of the tie-breakers for teams that finish level on points:

  1. goal difference in all group matches
  2. greater number of goals scored in all group matches

Where teams are still not able to be separated, the following tie-breakers are used:

  1. greater number of points obtained in matches between the tied teams
  2. goal difference in matches between the tied teams
  3. greater number of goals scored in matches between the tied teams
  4. goals scored away from home in matches between the tied teams, if the tie is only between two teams

Where teams are still equal, then a play-off on neutral ground, with extra time and penalties if necessary will be played if FIFA deems such a play-off able to be fitted within the coordinated international match calendar. If this is not deemed feasible, then the result will be determined by fair play points and then the drawing of lots.

Note that this order of tie-breaker application has not always been applied. While it was used in the 2010 qualifiers, the qualification for the 2006 World Cup used the head-to-head comparison prior to goal difference (although this system was – where applicable – used in the 2006 finals themselves). If these rules had applied in 2006, then Nigeria would have qualified rather than Angola.

Home-and-away tiesEdit

Most knock-out qualifiers (such as the inter-confederation play-offs, the second round of UEFA qualifying and many preliminary ties) are played over two legs. The team that scores a greater aggregate number of goals qualifies. Away goals rule applies. If these rules fail to determine the winner, extra time and penalty shootouts are used.

Occasionally – usually when one entrant lacks adequate facilities to host international matches – ties are played over a single leg, in which case matches level after 90 minutes will go to extra time and then to a penalty shootout if required.

Alternatively, "home" matches can be played in neutral countries, or occasionally one team will host both matches. In the latter case the visiting team will still be considered as the "home" team for one of the legs – which may determine which side advances under the away goals rule, as occurred in CONCACAF qualification in 2010.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "History of the FIFA World Cup preliminary competition (by year)" (PDF). fifa.com. FIFA. November 2009. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ "FIFA's 209 member associations" (PDF). fifa.com. FIFA. July 2012.
  3. ^ Carlos Ruiz at National-Football-Teams.com
  4. ^ Ali Daei at National-Football-Teams.com
  5. ^ Cristiano Ronaldo at National-Football-Teams.com
  6. ^ Karim Bagheri at National-Football-Teams.com
  7. ^ Kazuyoshi Miura at National-Football-Teams.com
  8. ^ Andriy Shevchenko at National-Football-Teams.com
  9. ^ Tim Cahill at National-Football-Teams.com
  10. ^ Carlos Pavón at National-Football-Teams.com
  11. ^ Edin Džeko at National-Football-Teams.com
  12. ^ Jared Borgetti at National-Football-Teams.com
  13. ^ Robert Lewandowski at National-Football-Teams.com
  14. ^ Paulo Wanchope at National-Football-Teams.com
  15. ^ Lionel Messi at National-Football-Teams.com
  16. ^ Luis Suárez at National-Football-Teams.com
  17. ^ Archie Thompson at National-Football-Teams.com
  18. ^ Stern John at National-Football-Teams.com
  19. ^ Vaughan Coveny at National-Football-Teams.com
  20. ^ Emmanuel Sanon at National-Football-Teams.com
  21. ^ Pauleta at National-Football-Teams.com
  22. ^ Zlatan Ibrahimović at National-Football-Teams.com
  23. ^ Hernán Crespo at National-Football-Teams.com
  24. ^ Didier Drogba at National-Football-Teams.com
  25. ^ Moumouni Dagano at National-Football-Teams.com
  26. ^ Samuel Eto'o at National-Football-Teams.com
  27. ^ Raúl Díaz Arce at National-Football-Teams.com
  28. ^ Marcelo Salas at National-Football-Teams.com
  29. ^ Robbie Keane at National-Football-Teams.com
  30. ^ Clint Dempsey at National-Football-Teams.com
  31. ^ Iván Zamorano at National-Football-Teams.com
  32. ^ Deon McCaulay at National-Football-Teams.com
  33. ^ Xu Yang at National-Football-Teams.com
  34. ^ Mohammad Al-Sahlawi at National-Football-Teams.com
  35. ^ Kubilay Türkyilmaz at National-Football-Teams.com
  36. ^ Dimitar Berbatov at National-Football-Teams.com
  37. ^ Alexander Frei at National-Football-Teams.com
  38. ^ Ahmed Khalil Al-Junaibi at National-Football-Teams.com
  39. ^ Álvaro Saborío at National-Football-Teams.com
  40. ^ "Fifa makes major policy shift". BBC News. 30 November 2001.
  41. ^ "Current allocation of FIFA World Cup confederation slots maintained" (Press release). FIFA. 30 May 2015.
  42. ^ "Africa calls for FIFA to increase World Cup places". Ahram Online. Reuters. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  43. ^ "New Fifa chief backs 48-team World Cup". heraldlive. 7 October 2016. It’s an idea, just as the World Cup with 40 teams is already on the table with groups of four or five teams.
  44. ^ "World Cup could expand to 48 teams, Fifa's Gianni Infantino suggests". The Guardian. 3 October 2016.
  45. ^ "Fifa approves Infantino's plan to expand World Cup to 48 teams from 2026". The Guardian. 10 January 2017.
  46. ^ "Bureau of the Council recommends slot allocation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup". FIFA. 30 March 2017. Archived from the original on 9 April 2017.
  47. ^ "ExCo approves expanded AFC Asian Cup finals". AFC. 16 April 2014.
  48. ^ "World Cup draw looms large in Asia". FIFA.com. 13 April 2015. Completing the tournament's qualifying contenders will be the next 16 highest ranked teams, with the remaining 12 sides battling it out in play-off matches to claim the last eight spots.
  49. ^ "A unanimous decision: A draw will determine the classifications for the World Cup and CONMEBOL Tournaments". CONMEBOL.com. 23 January 2015.

External linksEdit