FIFA World Cup qualification

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The FIFA World Cup qualification is the process that a national association football team goes through to qualify for the final tournament of the FIFA World Cup. The qualification reduces the large field of eligible entrants from 211 to just 32 for the finals as of the 2022 edition (to be expanded to 48 from 2026 onwards).

Qualifying tournaments are held within FIFA's six continental zones and are organized by their respective confederations: AFC (Asia), CAF (Africa), CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean), CONMEBOL (South America), OFC (Oceania), and UEFA (Europe). For each World Cup, FIFA decides beforehand the number of places in the finals allocated to each of the zones, based on the numbers and relative strengths of the confederations' teams.

The hosts receive automatic berths, and until 2002, so did the defending champions. Unlike with other sports, results of the previous World Cups or of the continental championships are not taken into account.

The current qualification process is the 2022 qualification, which commenced in 2019 and finishes in 2022.

History[edit]

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 three-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 continent[edit]

The table below lists the numbers of spots allocated by FIFA for each continent in each tournament. It also shows the total number of teams that entered and played in every qualification cycle.

"H" denotes an automatic spot for the host, "C" denotes an automatic spot for the defending champion, and "inv" indicates the number of teams that were invited in 1930. Places in intercontinental play-offs are represented as fractions, with a place in a direct play-off being counted as 0.5 spots and a place in a semi-final play-off (where the winner would then face yet another team for a place in the finals) being counted as 0.25 spots.

Places allocated for continents
Uruguay
1930
[α]
Italy
1934
France
1938
Brazil
1950
Switzerland
1954
Sweden
1958
Chile
1962
England
1966
Mexico
1970
West Germany
1974
Argentina
1978
Spain
1982
Mexico
1986
Italy
1990
United States
1994
France
1998
South Korea
Japan
2002
Germany
2006
South Africa
2010
Brazil
2014
Russia
2018
Qatar
2022
Canada
Mexico
United States
2026
Europe 4 inv 12 11
+H+C
7
+C
11
+H
9[β]
+H+C
8+
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[γ] 1[β] 0.5 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 5 5 5 5
+H
5 5 5 9
Asia 1 1 1 0.5 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 N/A[δ] 0[γ] 0[γ] 0[γ] 0[γ] 0.5 0.5 0.25 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 1
North and Central America
and Caribbean
2 inv 1 1 2 1 1 0.5 1 1
+H
1 1 2 1
+H
2 1.25
+H
3 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 6
South America H+
6 inv
2 1 4
+H
1
+C
3 3.5
+H+C
3
+C
3 2.5
+C
2.5
+H
3
+C
4 2.5
+C
3.5 4
+C
4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5
+H
4.5 4.5 6
Play-off tournament N/A 2
Total spots 13 16 16 16 16 24 32 48
Teams in the finals 15[ε] 13[ζ]
Entered qualification[η] N/A 32 34 32 37 51 54 69 69 97 105 107 119 111 145 172 196 197 205[θ] 203 210 211[ι]
Played in qualification[κ] 27 21 19 33 46 49 51 68 90 95 103 110 103 128 168 193 194 199[θ] 202 208 209[ι]
Qualified via qualification 14 10 9 13 14 14 14 14 14 14 22 22 22 22 30 29 31 31 31 31 31
Qualified without playing 13 2 6 7 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 1 1 1 1 1
Notes
  1. ^ Spots were given by invitation only.
  2. ^ a b Actually the spots were taken by 10 European teams and no African or Asian ones. After Israel won the African/Asian zone without playing due to withdrawals of other teams, a special play-off was arranged between them and a European team, Wales, and was won by Wales.
  3. ^ a b c d e None entered.
  4. ^ No teams from the region were members of FIFA before 1950.
  5. ^ Austria withdrew after having qualified.
  6. ^ India, Scotland and Turkey withdrew after having qualified. France initially accepted to participate as a replacement but then withdrew as well.
  7. ^ Includes all teams that entered qualification, even if they withdrew or were excluded afterwards, or qualified by walkover. Does not include pre-determined automatic qualifiers.
  8. ^ a b Including host South Africa and non-FIFA member Tuvalu, who participated because other tournaments also served as World Cup qualifiers.
  9. ^ a b Including host Qatar, who participated because the continental qualification also served as World Cup qualifiers.
  10. ^ Only includes teams that played at least one qualifying match that was not annulled.

First appearance in qualification by team[edit]

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.

Year Debuting teams Successor and renamed teams
Europe South America North, Central America and Caribbean Asia Africa Oceania T CT
Italy
1934
 Austria
 Belgium[a]
 Bulgaria
 Czechoslovakia[A]
 Estonia
 France[a]
 Germany[B]
 Greece
 Hungary
 Irish Free State[C]
 Italy[N 1]
 Lithuania
 Luxembourg
 Netherlands
 Poland
 Portugal
 Romania[a]
 Spain
 Sweden
  Switzerland
 Yugoslavia[a][D]
none  Cuba
 Haiti
 Mexico[a]
 United States[a]
 Palestine, British Mandate[E]  Egypt[F] none 27 27
France
1938
 Finland
 Latvia
 Norway
none none none none none 3 30
Brazil
1950
 England
 Ireland[G]
 Scotland
 Turkey[b]
 Wales
none none  Syria none none 6 36  Ireland[C]
 Israel[E]
Switzerland
1954
 Saar  Brazil[c]
 Chile[d]
 Paraguay[e]
none  Japan[f]
 South Korea
none none 6 42  Northern Ireland[G]
 Republic of Ireland[C]
 West Germany[B]
Sweden
1958
 Denmark
 East Germany
 Iceland
 Soviet Union[H]
 Argentina[g]
 Bolivia[e]
 Colombia[f]
 Peru[h]
 Uruguay[i]
 Canada
 Costa Rica[f]
 Guatemala
 Territory of Curaçao[I]
 China PR
 Indonesia[j]
 Sudan none 16 58
Chile
1962
 Cyprus[k]  Ecuador[l]  Dutch Guiana[f][J]
 Honduras
none  Ethiopia
 Ghana
 Morocco
 Nigeria
 Tunisia
none 9 67  Netherlands Antilles[I]
England
1966
 Albania  Venezuela[k]  Jamaica
 Trinidad and Tobago
 North Korea none  Australia 6 73
Mexico
1970
none none  Bermuda
 El Salvador[f]
none  Algeria[m]
 Cameroon[m]
 Libya[m]
 Rhodesia[K]
 Senegal[m]
 Zambia
 New Zealand 9 82
West Germany
1974
 Malta none  Antigua and Barbuda
 Puerto Rico
 Hong Kong
 Iran
 Iraq
 Kuwait
 Malaysia
 South Vietnam[L]
 Thailand
 Congo
 Dahomey[M]
 Guinea[m]
 Ivory Coast
 Kenya
 Lesotho
 Mauritius
 Sierra Leone
 Tanzania
 Togo
 Zaire[N]
none 21 103
Argentina
1978
none none  Barbados
 Dominican Republic
 Guyana
 Panama
 Bahrain
 Qatar
 Republic of China[n][O]
 Saudi Arabia
 Singapore
 Malawi
 Mauritania
 Niger
 Uganda
 Upper Volta[P]
none 14 117  Suriname[J]
Spain
1982
none none  Grenada  Macau  Gambia
 Liberia[m]
 Madagascar[o]
 Mozambique
 Somalia
 Fiji 8 125  Chinese Taipei[O]
 Zimbabwe[K]
Mexico
1986
none none none  Bangladesh
 Brunei
 Jordan
 India[p]
   Nepal
 North Yemen[Q]
 South Yemen
 United Arab Emirates[q]
 Angola none 9 134  Benin[M]
Italy
1990
none none none  Oman[r]
 Pakistan
 Gabon[s] none 3 137  Burkina Faso[P]
United States
1994
 Faroe Islands
 San Marino
none  Nicaragua
 Saint Lucia
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
 Lebanon[t]
 Sri Lanka[u]
 Botswana
 Burundi
 Namibia
 South Africa
 Swaziland[R]
 Solomon Islands
 Tahiti
 Vanuatu
15 152  Germany[B]
 Representation of Czechs and Slovaks[A]
 Russia[H]
 Vietnam[L]
 Yemen[Q]
France
1998
 Armenia
 Azerbaijan
 Belarus
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Croatia
 Georgia
 Liechtenstein[v]
 Macedonia[S]
 Moldova
 Slovakia
 Slovenia
 Ukraine
none  Aruba
 Belize
 Cayman Islands
 Dominica
 Saint Kitts and Nevis
 Cambodia
 Kazakhstan
 Kyrgyzstan
 Maldives[w]
 Philippines[x]
 Tajikistan
 Turkmenistan
 Uzbekistan
 Guinea-Bissau
 Rwanda[w]
 Cook Islands
 Papua New Guinea
 Tonga
 Western Samoa[v][T]
31 183  Czech Republic[A]
 DR Congo[N]
 FR Yugoslavia[D]
South KoreaJapan
2002
 Andorra none  Anguilla
 Bahamas[y]
 British Virgin Islands
 Montserrat
 Turks and Caicos Islands
 U.S. Virgin Islands
 Guam
 Laos
 Mongolia
 Palestine
 Cape Verde
 Central African Republic[z]
 Chad
 Djibouti
 Equatorial Guinea
 Eritrea
 Mali[aa]
 São Tomé and Príncipe[v]
 Seychelles
 American Samoa 21 204  Samoa[T]
Germany
2006
none none none  Afghanistan none  New Caledonia 2 206  Serbia and Montenegro[D]
South Africa
2010
 Montenegro none none  Myanmar[ab]
 Timor-Leste
 Comoros  Tuvalu[N 2] 5 211  Serbia[D]
Brazil
2014
none none none none none none 0 211  Curaçao[I]
Russia
2018
 Gibraltar
 Kosovo
none none  Bhutan[ac]  South Sudan none 4 215
Qatar
2022
none none none none none none 0 215  Eswatini[R]
 North Macedonia[S]
Teams' entries prior to their actual debuts in qualification
  1. ^ a b c d e f Participated in the 1930 World Cup by invitation.
  2. ^ Withdrew from the 1934 qualification before playing.
  3. ^ Participated in the 1930 World Cup by invitation. Qualified by walkover for the 1934 and 1938 finals. Qualified automatically for the 1950 World Cup as host.
  4. ^ Participated in the 1930 World Cup by invitation. Withdrew from the 1934 qualification before playing. Qualified by walkover for the 1950 finals.
  5. ^ a b Participated in the 1930 World Cup by invitation. Qualified by walkover for the 1950 finals.
  6. ^ a b c d e Withdrew from the 1938 qualification before playing.
  7. ^ Participated in the 1930 World Cup by invitation. Qualified by walkover for the 1934 finals. Withdrew from the 1938 and 1950 qualifications before playing.
  8. ^ Participated in the 1930 World Cup by invitation. Withdrew from the 1934, 1950 and 1954 qualifications before playing.
  9. ^ Participated in the 1930 World Cup as host. Qualified by walkover for the 1950 finals. Qualified automatically for the 1954 finals as defending champion.
  10. ^ Qualified by walkover for the 1938 finals (entered as the  Dutch East Indies). Withdrew from the 1950 qualification before playing.
  11. ^ a b Withdrew from the 1958 qualification before playing.
  12. ^ Withdrew from the 1950 qualification before playing.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Withdrew from the 1966 qualification before playing.
  14. ^ Withdrew from the 1954 and 1958 qualifications before playing.
  15. ^ Withdrew from the 1974 qualification before playing (entered as the  Malagasy Republic).
  16. ^ Qualified by walkover for the 1950 finals, and subsequently withdrew from participation. Withdrew from the 1974 qualification before playing.
  17. ^ Withdrew from the 1978 qualification before playing.
  18. ^ Withdrew from the 1986 qualification before playing.
  19. ^ Withdrew from the 1966 and 1974 qualifications before playing.
  20. ^ Withdrew during the 1986 qualification and had all its matches of that campaign annulled.
  21. ^ Withdrew from the 1974 and 1978 qualifications before playing (entered in 1974 as  Ceylon).
  22. ^ a b c Withdrew from the 1994 qualification before playing.
  23. ^ a b Withdrew from the 1990 qualification before playing.
  24. ^ Withdrew from the 1950 and 1974 qualifications before playing.
  25. ^ Withdrew from the 1998 qualification before playing.
  26. ^ Withdrew from the 1978 qualification before playing. Was disqualified from the 1982 qualification before playing.
  27. ^ Withdrew from the 1966, 1994 and 1998 qualifications before playing.
  28. ^ Withdrew from the 1950, 1994 and 2002 qualifications before playing (entered in 1950 as  Burma).
  29. ^ Withdrew from the 2010 qualification before playing.
Successor and renamed teams
  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. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b Mandatory Palestine was succeeded by Israel from the 1950 qualification.
  6. ^ Egypt was later succeeded by the  United Arab Republic, a political union with Syria, which entered the 1962 qualification, but withdrew before playing. Then Egypt continued independently but retained the name "United Arab Republic", under which it entered the 1966 qualification and yet again withdrew before playing. It was renamed back as "Egypt" from the 1974 qualification.
  7. ^ a b Ireland was succeeded by Northern Ireland from the 1954 qualification.
  8. ^ a b The Soviet Union was succeeded by Russia from the 1994 qualification.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ a b Dutch Guiana was succeeded by Suriname from the 1978 qualification.
  11. ^ a b Rhodesia was succeeded by Zimbabwe from the 1982 qualification.
  12. ^ a b South Vietnam was succeeded by Vietnam from the 1994 qualification.
  13. ^ a b Dahomey was renamed as Benin from the 1986 qualification.
  14. ^ a b Zaire was renamed as DR Congo during the 1998 qualification.
  15. ^ a b The Republic of China became officially known as Chinese Taipei from the 1982 qualification.
  16. ^ a b Upper Volta was renamed as Burkina Faso from the 1990 qualification.
  17. ^ a b North Yemen was succeeded by Yemen from the 1994 qualification.
  18. ^ a b Swaziland was renamed as Eswatini from the 2022 qualification.
  19. ^ a b Macedonia was renamed as North Macedonia from the 2022 qualification.
  20. ^ a b Western Samoa was renamed as Samoa from the 2002 qualification.
Other notes
  1. ^ Italy had to qualify for the 1934 tournament despite being the host.
  2. ^ Tuvalu, a non-FIFA member, formally could not enter the 2010 World Cup, but the team participated in the 2007 South Pacific Games which doubled as a stage of the qualification for that World Cup, and the team's results did count in determining advancement from that stage.

Overview of teams' participations[edit]

The below table shows how every team has participated in each World Cup qualification.

Key

  • golden background = successful qualifying campaign
  • grey background = did not take part in qualifying
  • bold red typeface = participated in the final tournament
Q Qualified
w Qualified, then withdrew from the finals (Austria in 1938, and Scotland and Turkey in 1950)
n Did not qualify
w Withdrew during qualifying
d Was disqualified during qualifying
H Qualified automatically as host but took part in qualifiers as they doubled as continental qualifiers (South Africa in 2010 and Qatar in 2022)
\ Was not a FIFA member but took part in qualifiers as they doubled as regional tournament (Tuvalu in 2010)
b Received bye to the finals
B Received bye to the finals, then withdrew (India in 1950)
H Qualified automatically as host
C Qualified automatically as reigning champion
i Was invited to the finals (all finalists in 1930 except Uruguay)
w Withdrew before playing / withdrew and had all matches annulled
d Was banned / entry was rejected / was disqualified before playing / was disqualified and had all matches annulled
Did not enter despite being a FIFA member
Was not a FIFA member
Team 19
30
19
34
19
38
19
50
19
54
19
58
19
62
19
66
19
70
19
74
19
78
19
82
19
86
19
90
19
94
19
98
20
02
20
06
20
10
20
14
20
18
20
22
Current
confederation[I]
 Afghanistan n n n n n AFC
 Albania n d n n n n n n n n n n n UEFA
 Algeria w n n n Q Q n n n n n Q Q n CAF
 American Samoa n n n n n OFC
 Andorra n n n n n UEFA
 Angola n n n n n Q n n n CAF
 Anguilla n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Antigua and Barbuda n n n n n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Argentina i b w w Q Q Q n Q H C Q C Q Q Q Q Q Q Q CONMEBOL
 Armenia n n n n n n UEFA
 Aruba n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Australia n n Q n n n n n n n Q Q Q Q AFC[II]
 Austria Q w w Q Q n n n Q Q n Q n Q n n n n n UEFA
 Azerbaijan n n n n n n UEFA
 Bahamas w n n n w n n CONCACAF
 Bahrain n n n w n n n n n n n n AFC
 Bangladesh n n n n n n n n n n AFC
 Barbados n w n n n n n n d n CONCACAF
 Belarus n n n n n n UEFA
 Belgium i Q Q w Q n n n Q n n Q Q Q Q Q Q n n Q Q UEFA
 Belize d n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Benin (1978–)
 Dahomey (1970–1974)
n n n n n n n n CAF
 Bermuda n n w n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Bhutan w n n AFC
 Bolivia i b d n n n n n n n n n Q n n n n n n CONMEBOL
 Bosnia and Herzegovina n n n n Q n UEFA
 Botswana n n n n n n n CAF
 Brazil i b b H Q Q C C Q C Q Q Q Q Q C Q Q Q H Q CONMEBOL
 British Virgin Islands n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Brunei n n d n n AFC
 Bulgaria w n n n Q Q Q Q n n Q n Q Q n n n n n UEFA
 Burkina Faso (1986–)
 Upper Volta (1970–1982)
n n w n n n n n n CAF
 Burundi n w w n n n n n CAF
 Cambodia[i] n n n n n n AFC
 Cameroon w n n n Q n Q Q Q Q n Q Q n CAF
 Canada n w n n n n Q n n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Cape Verde n n n n n CAF
 Cayman Islands n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Central African Republic w d n w w n n CAF
 Chad n n n n n n CAF
 Chile i w b n n H Q n Q n Q n n d Q n n Q Q n CONMEBOL
 China PR n n n n n n Q n n n n AFC
 Chinese Taipei (1982–)
 Republic of China (1954–1978)
w w n n n n n n n n n n n n AFC[III]
 Colombia w n Q n n n n n n Q Q Q n n n Q Q CONMEBOL[IV]
 Comoros n n n n CAF
 Congo d n n n n n n n n n CAF
 Cook Islands n n n n n n OFC
 Costa Rica w d n n n n n n n n Q n n Q Q n Q Q CONCACAF
 Croatia Q Q Q n Q Q UEFA
 Cuba n b n d n d n n n w n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Curaçao (2014–)
 Netherlands Antilles (1962–2010)
 Territory of Curaçao (1934–1958)
n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Cyprus w n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n UEFA[V]
 Czech Republic (1998–)
 Representation of Czechs and Slovaks (1994)
 Czechoslovakia (1930–1994)
Q Q Q Q Q n Q n n Q n Q n n n Q n n n UEFA
 Denmark n n n n n n Q n n Q Q n Q n Q UEFA
 Djibouti n n n n CAF
 Dominica n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Dominican Republic n n n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 DR Congo (1998–)
 Zaire (1974–1998)[ii]
d Q w n n n n n n n n n CAF
 East Germany n n n n Q n n n n defunct[VI]
 Ecuador w n n n n n n n n n n Q Q n Q n CONMEBOL
 Egypt[iii] Q w n w w w n n n n Q n n n n n n Q CAF[VII]
 El Salvador w Q n n Q n n n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 England Q Q Q Q H C n n Q Q Q n Q Q Q Q Q Q UEFA
 Equatorial Guinea n n n n n CAF
 Eritrea n n w n n n CAF
 Estonia n n n n n n n n n UEFA
 Eswatini (2022–)
 Swaziland (1982–2018)
n n n n n n n n CAF
 Ethiopia d n w n n n n n n n n d n n CAF[VIII]
 Faroe Islands n n n n n n n UEFA
 Fiji n n n n n n n n n OFC
 Finland n w n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n UEFA
 France i Q H n Q Q n Q n n Q Q Q n n H C Q Q Q Q UEFA
 Gabon w w n n n n n n n n CAF
 Gambia n n w n n n n n n n CAF
 Georgia n n n n n n UEFA
 Germany (1994–)
 West Germany (1950–1990)
 Germany (1930–1938)
Q Q d Q C Q Q Q H C Q Q Q C Q Q H Q Q Q UEFA
 Ghana n w n n n w n n n n n Q Q Q n CAF
 Gibraltar n UEFA
 Greece w n n n n n n n n n n n Q n n n Q Q n UEFA
 Grenada n w n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Guam n w w n n AFC
 Guatemala n n d n n n n n n n n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Guinea w d n n n n n n n d n n n n CAF
 Guinea-Bissau n n n n n n CAF
 Guyana n n n n n n d n n n n n CONCACAF
 Haiti n n n Q n n n n n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Honduras n n n n w Q n n n n n n Q Q n CONCACAF
 Hong Kong n n n n n n n n n n n n n AFC
 Hungary Q Q b Q Q Q n n Q Q Q n n n n n n n n UEFA
 Iceland d n n n n n n n n n n n n Q UEFA
 India B d w n w n n n n n n n n AFC
 Indonesia[iv] b w n w n n n n n n n n n n n d n AFC
 Iran n Q w d n n Q n Q n Q Q AFC
 Iraq n w n Q n n n n n n n n AFC
 Israel (1950–)
 Palestine, British Mandate (1930–1938)
n n n n n n n Q n n n n n n n n n n n n UEFA[IX]
 Italy Q C C Q n Q Q Q Q Q Q C H Q Q Q Q Q Q n UEFA
 Ivory Coast n n n n n n n Q Q Q n CAF
 Jamaica n n w n d n n Q n n n n n CONCACAF
 Japan w d n n n n n n n n n Q H Q Q Q Q AFC
 Jordan n n n n n n n n n n AFC
 Kazakhstan n n n n n n UEFA[X]
 Kenya n n n n n n n n n n n n CAF
 Kosovo n UEFA
 Kuwait n n Q n n n n n n n n d n AFC
 Kyrgyzstan n n n n n n n AFC
 Laos n n n n n AFC
 Latvia n n n n n n n n UEFA
 Lebanon w n n n n n n n AFC
 Lesotho n n w w n n n n n n CAF
 Liberia w n n n w n n n n n n CAF
 Libya w n n w n w w n n n n n CAF
 Liechtenstein w n n n n n n UEFA
 Lithuania n n n n n n n n n UEFA
 Luxembourg n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n UEFA
 Macau n n n n n n n n n n AFC
 Madagascar[v] w n n n n n n n n n CAF
 Malawi n n n n w n n n n n n CAF
 Malaysia n n n n n n n n n n n n n AFC
 Maldives w n n n n n n n AFC
 Mali w w w n n n n n CAF
 Malta n n n n n n n n n n n n UEFA
 Mauritania n w n n n n n CAF
 Mauritius n n d n n n n w n n CAF
 Mexico i n w Q Q Q Q Q H n Q n H d Q Q Q Q Q Q Q CONCACAF
 Moldova n n n n n n UEFA
 Mongolia n n n n n n AFC
 Montenegro n n n UEFA
 Montserrat n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Morocco n w Q w n n Q n Q Q n n n n Q CAF
 Mozambique n d n n n n n n n CAF
 Myanmar[vi] w w w d n n n n AFC
 Namibia n n n n n n n CAF
   Nepal n n n n w n n n n AFC
 Netherlands Q Q n n n n Q Q n n Q Q Q n Q Q Q n UEFA
 New Caledonia n n n n OFC
 New Zealand n n n Q n n n n n n Q n n OFC
 Nicaragua n n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Niger n n w n w n n n n CAF
 Nigeria n w n n n n n n Q Q Q n Q Q Q CAF
 North Korea Q d n w n n n n n Q n n w AFC
 North Macedonia (2022–)
 Macedonia (1998–2018)
n n n n n n UEFA
 Northern Ireland (1954–)
 Ireland (1950)
n n Q n n n n n Q Q n n n n n n n n UEFA
 Norway Q n n n n n n n n n n Q Q n n n n n UEFA
 Oman w n n n n n n n n AFC
 Pakistan n n n n n n n n n AFC
 Palestine n n n n n n AFC
 Panama n n n n n n n n n n Q CONCACAF
 Papua New Guinea n n n n OFC
 Paraguay i b n Q n n n n n n Q n n Q Q Q Q n n CONMEBOL
 Peru i w w w n n n Q n Q Q n n n n n n n n Q CONMEBOL
 Philippines w d w n n n n n AFC
 Poland n Q w n n n n Q Q Q Q n n n Q Q n n Q UEFA
 Portugal n n n n n n Q n n n n Q n n n Q Q Q Q Q UEFA
 Puerto Rico n n n n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Qatar n n n n n n n n n n n H AFC
 Republic of Ireland (1954–)
 Ireland (1950)
 Irish Free State (1930–1938)
n n n n n n n n n n n n Q Q n Q n n n n UEFA
 Romania i Q b n n w n Q n n n n Q Q Q n n n n n UEFA
 Russia (1994–)
 Soviet Union (1950–1990)
Q Q Q Q d n Q Q Q Q n Q n n Q H UEFA
 Rwanda w n n n n n n CAF
 Saar n defunct[VI]
 Saint Kitts and Nevis n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Saint Lucia n n n n n n n w CONCACAF
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines n n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Samoa (2002–)
 Western Samoa (1990–1998)
w n n n n n n OFC
 San Marino n n n n n n n UEFA
 São Tomé and Príncipe w n n w n n n CAF
 Saudi Arabia n n n n Q Q Q Q n n Q AFC
 Scotland w Q Q n n n Q Q Q Q Q n Q n n n n n UEFA
 Senegal w n n n n n n n Q n n n Q CAF
 Serbia (2010–)
 Serbia and Montenegro (2006)
 FR Yugoslavia (1994–2002)
 SFR Yugoslavia (1950–1990)
 Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1930–1938)
i n n Q Q Q Q n n Q n Q n Q d Q n Q Q n Q UEFA
 Seychelles n n n n n n CAF
 Sierra Leone n n n n w n n n n n n n CAF
 Singapore n n n n n n n n n n n n AFC
 Slovakia n n n Q n n UEFA
 Slovenia n Q n Q n n UEFA
 Solomon Islands n n n n n n n OFC
 Somalia n n n n n n n CAF
 South Africa d d d d d n Q Q n H n n CAF
 South Korea Q d n w n n n n Q Q Q Q H Q Q Q Q AFC
 South Sudan n n CAF
 South Yemen n w defunct[XI]
 Spain Q d Q n n Q Q n n Q H Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q UEFA
 Sri Lanka[vii] w w n n n n n n n n AFC
 Sudan n w w n n w n n n w n n n n n n CAF
 Suriname (1978–)
 Dutch Guiana (1930–1974)
w n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Sweden Q Q Q n H n n Q Q Q n n Q Q n Q Q n n Q UEFA
  Switzerland Q Q Q H n Q Q n n n n n n Q n n Q Q Q Q UEFA
 Syria w n w n n n n n n n n n n d n AFC[XII]
 Tahiti n n n n n n n OFC
 Tajikistan n n n n n n n AFC
 Tanzania n w n n w n n n n n n CAF
 Thailand n n n n n n n n n n n n n AFC
 Timor-Leste n n n n AFC
 Togo n n n w w n n n Q n n n CAF
 Tonga n n n n n n OFC
 Trinidad and Tobago n n n n n n n n n n Q n n n n CONCACAF
 Tunisia n w n n Q n n n n Q Q Q n n Q CAF
 Turkey w w Q w n n n n n n n n n n Q n n n n UEFA[XIII]
 Turkmenistan n n n n n n n AFC
 Turks and Caicos Islands n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Tuvalu \ OFC
 U.S. Virgin Islands n n n n n n CONCACAF
 Uganda n w n n w n n n n n n CAF
 Ukraine n n Q n n n UEFA
 United Arab Emirates w n Q n n n n n n n AFC
 United States i Q w Q n n n n n n n n n Q H Q Q Q Q Q n CONCACAF
 Uruguay H b C n Q Q Q Q n n Q Q n n Q n Q Q Q CONMEBOL
 Uzbekistan n n n n n n n AFC
 Vanuatu n n n n n n n OFC
 Venezuela w n n w n n n n n n n n n n n CONMEBOL
 Vietnam (1978–)
 South Vietnam (1954–1974)
d n w n n n n n n n AFC
 Wales n n Q n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n UEFA
 Yemen (1994–)
 North Yemen (1982–1990)
n n n n n n n n n n AFC
 Zambia n n n n n n n n n n n n n CAF
 Zimbabwe (1982–)
 Rhodesia (1970–1978)
n n n n n n n n n n d CAF[XIV]
Team 19
30
19
34
19
38
19
50
19
54
19
58
19
62
19
66
19
70
19
74
19
78
19
82
19
86
19
90
19
94
19
98
20
02
20
06
20
10
20
14
20
18
20
22
Current
confederation
Non-participating incarnations
  1. ^ Known as the  Khmer Republic in 1974, and then as  Kampuchea until 1990.
  2. ^ Known as  Congo-Kinshasa until 1970.
  3. ^ Entered in 1962 as the  United Arab Republic representing a political union with Syria. After that continued independently but retained the name "United Arab Republic" until 1970.
  4. ^ Entered as the  Dutch East Indies in 1938.
  5. ^ Known as the  Malagasy Republic until 1974.
  6. ^ Known as  Burma until 1990.
  7. ^ Known as  Ceylon until 1974.
Continental allocations
  1. ^ Africa and Asia had a joint zone in 1934 and 1958. Africa, Asia and Oceania had a joint zone in 1966. Asia and Oceania had a joint zone in 1970–1982.
  2. ^ Entered the Oceanian zone in 1986–2006.
  3. ^ Entered the Oceanian zone in 1986–1990.
  4. ^ Entered the North and Central American zone in 1938.
  5. ^ Entered the African/Asian zone in 1958.
  6. ^ a b Participated in the European zone.
  7. ^ Entered the European zone in 1938 and 1954.
  8. ^ Entered the European zone in 1962.
  9. ^ Entered the African/Asian zone in 1934 and 1958, the Asian/Oceanian zone in 1970–1978, and the Oceanian zone in 1986–1990.
  10. ^ Entered the Asian zone in 1998–2002.
  11. ^ Participated in the Asian zone.
  12. ^ Entered the European zone in 1950 and 1966.
  13. ^ Entered the African/Asian zone in 1934 and 1958.
  14. ^ Entered the Asian/Oceanian zone in 1970.

Overall team records[edit]

The below table compares the overall records of all teams that have participated in qualification. Teams are ordered by points using the three points for a win system, then by goal difference, and then by goals scored. Note that this order does not represent any official rankings, and qualification tournaments are not direct competitions between all teams.

The "Qualifying attempts" column only counts qualifying campaigns where the team played at least one match that was not annulled. An attempt is treated as "successful" if the team gained the right to participate in the finals, even if it did not appear there eventually.

As per statistical convention in football, matches decided in extra time are counted as wins and losses, while matches decided by penalty shoot-outs are counted as draws.

Key
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 qualified for the main tournament only automatically 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 June 2021.

No. Team Qualifying attempts Appearances
in the finals
Overall qualification record Points Confederation
Total Successful Pld W D L GF GA GD Total Avg
1  Mexico 16 13 16 175 113 37 25 436 126 +310 376 2.149 CONCACAF
2  Australia 15 5 5 149 90 36 23 390 115 +275 306 2.054 AFC
3  South Korea 15 9 10 141 87 37 17 286 87 +199 298 2.113 AFC
4  Costa Rica 16 5 5 172 85 43 44 295 176 +119 298 1.733 CONCACAF
5  Iran 11 5 5 136 84 34 18 301 85 +216 286 2.103 AFC
6  Netherlands 19 10 10 126 82 24 20 302 96 +206 268 2.156? UEFA
7  Spain 19 14 15 120 83 26 11 282 79 +203 275 2.292 UEFA
8  Argentina 14 12 17 142 78 39 25 244 132 +112 273 1.923 CONMEBOL
9  Portugal 21 7 7 142 78 34 30 268 142 +126 268 1.887 UEFA
10  Sweden 20 11 12 133 82 21 30 271 121 +150 267 2.008 UEFA
11  United States 18 8 10 154 77 36 41 266 181 +85 267 1.734 CONCACAF
12  Serbia
 Serbia and Montenegro
 FR Yugoslavia
 SFR Yugoslavia
 Kingdom of Yugoslavia
20 11 12 131 77 32 22 276 119 +157 263 2.008 UEFA
13  Belgium 20 12 13 136 79 26 31 289 143 +146 263 1.934 UEFA
14  England 17 13 15 115 79 25 11 284 68 +216 262 2.278 UEFA
15  Czech Republic
 Representation of Czechs and Slovaks
 Czechoslovakia
20 9 9 141 76 30 35 273 120 +153 258 1.830 UEFA
16  Italy 17 14 18 112 77 26 9 227 69 +158 257 2.295 UEFA
17  Uruguay 17 10 13 160 71 44 45 225 171 +54 257 1.606 CONMEBOL
18  Japan 15 5 6 128 76 26 26 293 87 +206 254 1.984 AFC
19  Brazil 13 12 21 116 74 30 12 256 72 +184 252 2.172 CONMEBOL
20  Saudi Arabia 12 5 5 126 74 30 22 254 97 +157 252 2.000 AFC
21  Russia
 Soviet Union
16 10 11 118 75 23 20 233 79 +154 248 2.102 UEFA
22  Honduras 14 3 3 150 69 40 41 255 173 +82 247 1.647 CONCACAF
23  Germany
 West Germany
 Germany
15 14 19 97 76 18 3 297 72 +225 246 2.536 UEFA
24  Paraguay 18 6 8 160 67 34 59 207 196 +11 235 1.469 CONMEBOL
25  China PR 12 1 1 116 72 17 27 260 77 +183 233 2.009 AFC
26  El Salvador 14 2 2 146 68 29 49 252 169 +83 233 1.596 CONCACAF
27  Romania 18 5 7 131 68 27 36 230 140 +90 231 1.763 UEFA
28   Switzerland 20 10 11 134 65 34 35 209 149 +60 229 1.709 UEFA
29  France 18 11 15 114 67 24 23 220 89 +131 225 1.974 UEFA
30  Colombia 17 6 6 158 59 48 51 191 172 +19 225 1.424 CONMEBOL
31  Scotland 19 9 8 128 63 30 35 199 139 +60 219 1.711 UEFA
32  Chile 16 6 9 152 62 32 58 225 203 +22 218 1.434 CONMEBOL
33  Denmark 16 5 5 125 61 30 34 226 141 +85 213 1.704 UEFA
34  Republic of Ireland
 Ireland
 Irish Free State
21 3 3 143 56 43 44 201 173 +28 211 1.476 UEFA
35  Austria 19 8 7 126 60 29 37 217 143 +74 209 1.659 UEFA
36  Bulgaria 20 7 7 132 60 28 44 210 182 +28 208 1.576 UEFA
37  Hungary 19 8 9 125 60 27 38 226 167 +59 207 1.656 UEFA
38  Poland 19 8 8 120 61 22 37 235 148 +87 205 1.708 UEFA
39  Nigeria 14 6 6 104 58 29 17 175 80 +95 203 1.952 CAF
40  Trinidad and Tobago 15 1 1 141 57 29 55 207 184 +23 200 1.418 CONCACAF
41  Tunisia 14 5 5 104 57 28 19 180 84 +96 199 1.913 CAF
42  Canada 15 1 1 123 54 34 35 192 137 +55 196 1.593 CONCACAF
43  Qatar 12 0 1 120 57 23 40 199 122 +77 194 1.617 AFC
44  Greece 20 3 3 130 54 31 45 161 173 −12 193 1.485 UEFA
45  Morocco 14 5 5 111 51 38 22 150 80 +70 191 1.721 CAF
46  Guatemala 16 0 0 126 52 32 42 208 150 +58 188 1.492 CONCACAF
47  Iraq 12 1 1 109 53 26 30 215 107 +108 185 1.697 AFC
48  Ecuador 16 3 3 149 50 33 66 183 212 −29 183 1.228 CONMEBOL
49  Uzbekistan 7 0 0 102 54 19 29 195 104 +91 181 1.775 AFC
50  New Zealand 13 2 2 96 53 18 25 221 99 +122 177 1.844 OFC
51  Cameroon 13 7 7 87 51 22 14 144 66 +78 175 2.011 CAF
52  Egypt 14 3 3 93 52 19 22 165 89 +76 175 1.882 CAF
53  Kuwait 13 1 1 101 52 16 33 179 99 +80 172 1.703 AFC
54  Turkey 18 3 2 131 49 25 57 186 192 −6 172 1.313 UEFA
55  Peru 17 4 5 155 44 38 73 170 225 −55 170 1.097 CONMEBOL
56  Norway 19 3 3 129 46 30 53 174 181 −7 168 1.302 UEFA
57  Northern Ireland
 Ireland
19 3 3 136 43 37 56 149 163 −14 166 1.221 UEFA
58  United Arab Emirates 10 1 1 105 48 20 37 186 118 +68 164 1.562 AFC
59  Israel
 Palestine, British Mandate
21 1 1 125 41 35 49 171 182 −11 158 1.264 UEFA
60  Zambia 13 0 0 96 45 20 31 145 88 +57 155 1.615 CAF
61  Bolivia 17 1 3 156 40 31 85 186 298 −112 151 0.968 CONMEBOL
62  Syria 15 0 0 92 43 20 29 196 104 +92 149 1.620 AFC
63  Ivory Coast 11 3 3 78 41 25 12 144 67 +77 148 1.897 CAF
64  Haiti 15 1 1 95 42 17 36 165 124 +41 143 1.505 CONCACAF
65  Algeria 13 4 4 89 40 23 26 126 91 +35 143 1.607 CAF
66  Ghana 13 3 3 83 40 22 21 132 66 +66 142 1.711 CAF
67  Wales 19 1 1 122 38 26 58 153 173 −20 140 1.148 UEFA
68  Jamaica 11 1 1 104 37 27 40 115 132 −17 138 1.327 CONCACAF
69  North Korea 10 2 2 83 39 19 25 116 77 +39 136 1.639 AFC
70  Bahrain 11 0 0 96 35 28 33 120 98 +22 133 1.385 AFC
71  Croatia 7 5 5 65 38 18 9 112 48 +64 132 2.031 UEFA
72  Ukraine 7 1 1 73 35 25 13 111 55 +56 130 1.781 UEFA
73  DR Congo
 Zaire
10 1 1 76 36 17 23 128 84 +44 125 1.645 CAF
74  Oman 9 0 0 78 35 19 24 131 76 +55 124 1.590 AFC
75  Finland 20 0 0 131 32 25 74 137 290 −153 121 0.924 UEFA
76  Panama 12 1 1 100 32 23 45 125 159 −34 119 1.190 CONCACAF
77  Slovakia 7 1 1 67 33 16 18 114 67 +47 115 1.716 UEFA
78  Guinea 12 0 0 75 35 10 30 114 97 +17 115 1.533 CAF
79  Jordan 10 0 0 78 32 16 30 118 95 +23 112 1.436 AFC
80  Iceland 14 1 1 109 29 19 61 120 221 −101 106 0.972 UEFA
81  Venezuela 14 0 0 146 26 26 94 123 323 −200 104 0.712 CONMEBOL
82  Senegal 12 2 2 63 26 22 15 90 56 +34 100 1.587 CAF
83  Angola 10 1 1 63 26 22 15 82 58 +24 100 1.587 CAF
84  Thailand 13 0 0 97 26 21 50 125 165 −40 99 1.021 AFC
85  Bosnia and Herzegovina 7 1 1 60 28 11 21 114 72 +42 95 1.583 UEFA
86  Slovenia 7 2 2 65 26 15 24 83 71 +12 93 1.431 UEFA
87  South Africa 7 2 3 50 28 8 14 66 45 +21 92 1.840 CAF
88  Burkina Faso
 Upper Volta
8 0 0 60 26 10 24 87 78 +9 88 1.467 CAF
89  Hong Kong 13 0 0 81 24 16 41 95 141 −46 88 1.086 AFC
90  Cuba 13 0 1 72 22 20 30 92 105 −13 86 1.194 CONCACAF
91  Kenya 12 0 0 68 23 16 29 77 91 −14 85 1.250 CAF
92  Zimbabwe
 Rhodesia
11 0 0 63 22 16 25 65 77 −12 82 1.302 CAF
93  Malaysia 13 0 0 69 23 13 33 95 124 −29 82 1.188 AFC
94  Lebanon 8 0 0 62 22 15 25 98 85 +13 81 1.306 AFC
95  Togo 11 1 1 65 22 15 28 71 87 −16 81 1.246 CAF
96  Suriname
 Dutch Guiana
15 0 0 69 22 14 33 106 115 −9 80 1.159 CONCACAF
97  Libya 10 0 0 56 21 13 22 63 62 +1 76 1.357 CAF
98  Congo 9 0 0 62 21 13 28 70 83 −13 76 1.226 CAF
99  East Germany 9 1 1 47 22 8 17 87 65 +22 74 1.574 defunct
100  Gabon 8 0 0 57 21 11 25 57 65 −8 74 1.298 CAF
101  Singapore 12 0 0 76 21 11 44 81 143 −62 74 0.974 AFC
102  Indonesia
 Dutch East Indies
13 0 1 79 19 17 43 92 170 −78 74 0.937 AFC
103  Albania 13 0 0 107 20 14 73 75 190 −115 74 0.692 UEFA
104  Latvia 9 0 0 78 19 16 43 86 137 −51 73 0.936 UEFA
105  Solomon Islands 7 0 0 54 21 9 24 112 113 −1 72 1.333 OFC
106  Fiji 9 0 0 53 20 10 23 111 98 +13 70 1.321 OFC
107  Curaçao
 Netherlands Antilles
 Territory of Curaçao
17 0 0 66 16 20 30 69 119 −50 68 1.030 CONCACAF
108  Lithuania 10 0 0 75 17 16 42 59 114 −55 67 0.893 UEFA
109  Sudan 13 0 0 66 16 18 32 59 102 −43 66 1.000 CAF
110  Turkmenistan 7 0 0 46 20 5 21 72 70 +2 65 1.413 AFC
111  New Caledonia 4 0 0 35 18 8 9 87 36 +51 62 1.771 OFC
112  Malawi 11 0 0 60 15 17 28 57 83 −26 62 1.033 CAF
113  Cyprus 16 0 0 117 16 14 87 88 300 −212 62 0.530 UEFA
114  North Macedonia
 Macedonia
7 0 0 63 16 12 35 80 106 −26 60 0.952 UEFA
115  Liberia 10 0 0 60 16 12 32 42 86 −44 60 1.000 CAF
116  Tajikistan 7 0 0 44 17 8 19 77 67 +10 59 1.341 AFC
117  Tahiti 7 0 0 43 17 8 18 66 81 −15 59 1.372 OFC
118  Estonia 10 0 0 78 16 11 51 69 176 −107 59 0.756 UEFA
119  Bermuda 8 0 0 40 16 10 14 83 58 +25 58 1.450 CONCACAF
120  Uganda 9 0 0 42 15 9 18 41 57 −16 54 1.286 CAF
121  Belarus 7 0 0 60 14 12 34 65 107 −42 54 0.900 UEFA
122  Mali 5 0 0 40 14 11 15 50 52 −2 53 1.325 CAF
123  Vietnam
 South Vietnam
9 0 0 49 16 5 28 56 86 −30 53 1.082 AFC
124  Armenia 7 0 0 65 13 14 38 58 124 −66 53 0.815 UEFA
125  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 8 0 0 62 15 8 39 80 186 −106 53 0.855 CONCACAF
126  Yemen
 North Yemen
10 0 0 58 13 13 32 58 98 −40 52 0.897 AFC
127  Antigua and Barbuda 11 0 0 46 15 6 25 72 98 −26 51 1.109 CONCACAF
128  Saint Kitts and Nevis 7 0 0 36 14 8 14 72 62 +10 50 1.389 CONCACAF
129  Kyrgyzstan 7 0 0 39 15 5 19 57 61 −4 50 1.282 AFC
130  India 9 0 0 51 11 15 25 49 94 −45 48 0.941 AFC
131  Kazakhstan 7 0 0 62 12 12 38 72 131 −59 48 0.774 UEFA
132  Montenegro 4 0 0 33 12 10 11 53 46 +7 46 1.394 UEFA
133  Benin
 Dahomey
8 0 0 44 13 7 24 46 89 −43 46 1.045 CAF
134  Sierra Leone 11 0 0 47 12 9 26 41 72 −31 45 0.957 CAF
135  Madagascar 9 0 0 36 12 8 16 45 51 −6 44 1.222 CAF
136  Georgia 7 0 0 59 9 17 33 53 93 −40 44 0.746 UEFA
137  Palestine 6 0 0 34 12 7 15 58 46 +12 43 1.265 AFC
138  Dominican Republic 9 0 0 33 12 6 15 50 54 −4 42 1.273 CONCACAF
139  Cape Verde 5 0 0 34 13 3 18 34 46 −12 42 1.235 CAF
140  Ethiopia 12 0 0 43 10 12 21 48 66 −18 42 0.977 CAF
141  Namibia 8 0 0 44 11 9 24 41 83 −42 42 0.955 CAF
142  Vanuatu 7 0 0 37 12 3 22 76 89 −13 39 1.054 OFC
143  Barbados 9 0 0 41 11 6 24 38 76 −38 39 0.951 CONCACAF
144  Mozambique 9 0 0 36 10 8 18 33 50 −17 38 1.056 CAF
145  Bangladesh 10 0 0 58 10 8 40 37 141 −104 38 0.655 AFC
146  Botswana 7 0 0 36 10 6 20 33 53 −20 36 1.000 CAF
147  Azerbaijan 7 0 0 60 7 14 39 30 107 −77 35 0.583 UEFA
148  Rwanda 7 0 0 38 8 9 21 39 54 −15 33 0.868 CAF
149  Tanzania 10 0 0 35 7 12 16 37 52 −15 33 0.943 CAF
150  Niger 7 0 0 30 9 5 16 27 48 −21 32 1.067 CAF
151  Belize 7 0 0 29 8 6 15 37 59 −22 30 1.034 CONCACAF
152  Guyana 11 0 0 38 8 6 24 40 89 −49 30 0.789 CONCACAF
153  Maldives 7 0 0 40 9 3 28 43 140 −97 30 0.750 AFC
154  Faroe Islands 8 0 0 73 7 8 58 36 192 −156 29 0.397 UEFA
155  Nicaragua 8 0 0 25 9 1 15 35 45 −10 28 1.120 CONCACAF
156  Puerto Rico 10 0 0 29 7 7 15 32 57 −25 28 0.966 CONCACAF
157  Samoa
 Western Samoa
6 0 0 26 9 1 16 37 88 −51 28 1.077 OFC
158  Moldova 7 0 0 61 5 13 43 37 128 −91 28 0.459 UEFA
159  Luxembourg 21 0 0 136 6 10 120 71 436 −365 28 0.206 UEFA
160  Papua New Guinea 4 0 0 22 7 6 9 43 36 +7 27 1.227 OFC
161  Grenada 8 0 0 29 8 3 18 51 59 −8 27 0.931 CONCACAF
162  Burundi 7 0 0 22 7 5 10 19 28 −9 26 1.182 CAF
163  Philippines 5 0 0 29 7 5 17 28 68 −40 26 0.897 AFC
164  Gambia 9 0 0 26 6 6 14 21 39 −18 24 0.923 CAF
165  Saint Lucia 7 0 0 24 7 1 16 32 62 −30 22 0.917 CONCACAF
166  Tonga 6 0 0 22 7 1 14 23 82 −59 22 1.000 OFC
167    Nepal 8 0 0 38 6 4 28 27 122 −95 22 0.579 AFC
168  Chinese Taipei
 Republic of China
12 0 0 66 6 4 56 39 234 −195 22 0.333 AFC
169  Chad 6 0 0 18 6 2 10 16 26 −10 20 1.111 CAF
170  Mongolia 6 0 0 24 6 1 17 17 75 −58 19 0.792 AFC
171  Equatorial Guinea 6 0 0 22 5 3 14 19 37 −18 18 0.818 CAF
172  Sri Lanka 8 0 0 39 4 6 29 26 99 −73 18 0.462 AFC
173  Eswatini
 Swaziland
8 0 0 21 4 5 12 16 41 −25 17 0.810 CAF
174  Dominica 7 0 0 24 4 5 15 20 58 −38 17 0.708 CONCACAF
175  Myanmar 4 0 0 22 5 2 15 17 73 −56 17 0.773 AFC
176  Malta 13 0 0 105 2 11 92 36 308 −272 17 0.162 UEFA
177  Aruba 7 0 0 20 5 1 14 26 61 −35 16 0.800 CONCACAF
178  Lesotho 8 0 0 26 2 10 14 15 52 −37 16 0.615 CAF
179  Bahamas 6 0 0 18 4 4 10 20 58 −38 16 0.889 CONCACAF
180  Afghanistan 5 0 0 22 4 4 14 15 60 −45 16 0.727 AFC
181  Cambodia 6 0 0 36 4 4 28 22 135 −113 16 0.444 AFC
182  Macau 10 0 0 37 4 2 31 16 168 −152 14 0.378 AFC
183  Guinea-Bissau 7 0 0 14 3 4 7 11 20 −9 13 0.929 CAF
184  Laos 5 0 0 28 3 4 21 23 125 −102 13 0.464 AFC
185  Liechtenstein 7 0 0 63 2 6 55 24 195 −171 12 0.190 UEFA
186  Cook Islands 6 0 0 20 3 1 16 16 63 −47 10 0.500 OFC
187  Guam 3 0 0 20 3 1 16 10 84 −74 10 0.500 AFC
188  American Samoa 5 0 0 18 3 1 14 11 136 −125 10 0.556 OFC
189  Mauritania 6 0 0 16 2 3 11 13 31 −18 9 0.562 CAF
190  Montserrat 6 0 0 13 2 3 8 17 49 −32 9 0.692 CONCACAF
191  Bhutan 2 0 0 12 3 0 9 9 58 −49 9 0.750 AFC
192  U.S. Virgin Islands 6 0 0 19 3 0 16 8 95 −87 9 0.474 CONCACAF
193  Andorra 6 0 0 55 2 3 50 15 170 −155 9 0.164 UEFA
194  Djibouti 5 0 0 15 2 2 11 8 57 −49 8 0.533 CAF
195  São Tomé and Príncipe 5 0 0 10 2 1 7 5 25 −20 7 0.700 CAF
196  Somalia 7 0 0 13 1 3 9 3 29 −26 6 0.462 CAF
197  Mauritius 8 0 0 20 1 3 16 14 52 −38 6 0.300 CAF
198  Cayman Islands 7 0 0 20 0 6 14 8 53 −45 6 0.300 CONCACAF
199  Brunei 4 0 0 16 2 0 14 5 62 −57 6 0.375 AFC
200  Saar 1 0 0 4 1 1 2 4 8 −4 4 1.000 defunct
201  Central African Republic 3 0 0 10 1 1 8 8 21 −13 4 0.400 CAF
202  Comoros 4 0 0 10 0 4 6 5 21 −16 4 0.400 CAF
203  Pakistan 9 0 0 32 0 4 28 13 122 −109 4 0.125 AFC
204  Eritrea 5 0 0 10 0 3 7 4 20 −16 3 0.300 CAF
205  British Virgin Islands 6 0 0 14 0 3 11 7 53 −46 3 0.214 CONCACAF
206  Turks and Caicos Islands 6 0 0 13 1 0 12 6 68 −62 3 0.231 CONCACAF
207  South Sudan 2 0 0 4 0 2 2 2 7 −5 2 0.500 CAF
208  Seychelles 6 0 0 16 0 2 14 6 46 −40 2 0.125 CAF
209  San Marino 8 0 0 69 0 2 67 11 320 −309 2 0.029 UEFA
210  South Yemen 1 0 0 2 0 1 1 4 7 −3 1 0.500 defunct
211  Tuvalu 1 0 0 4 0 1 3 2 22 −20 1 0.250 OFC
212  Kosovo 2 0 0 12 0 1 11 4 30 −26 1 0.083 UEFA
213  Anguilla 6 0 0 14 0 1 13 2 64 −62 1 0.071 CONCACAF
214  Gibraltar 2 0 0 13 0 0 13 4 61 −57 0 0.000 UEFA
215  Timor-Leste 4 0 0 16 0 0 16 6 80 −74 0 0.000 AFC

Current format[edit]

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.[1]

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. In 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. 2014 winners Germany also failed to make it out of their group in 2018, finishing bottom, despite winning all of their qualifying matches. They were the third consecutive World Cup winners to go out in the first round at the following tournament.

FIFA decides beforehand the number of spots awarded to each of the continental zones. For the 2022 World Cup, the following numbers were used:[2]

  • 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.[3]

In early October 2016, it was announced that the World Cup would have featured 40 teams starting with the 2026 tournament,[4] then FIFA President Gianni Infantino stated his support for a 48-team World Cup,[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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 June, five months preceding the Qatar tournament.

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

Africa[edit]

The CAF qualification process reverted to the format used for the 2014 qualification. It began 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.

Asia[edit]

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.

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.[8]

Europe[edit]

The European qualification was changed from the 2010 to 2018 systems. The 55 national teams were 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 partly changed the qualifying format. Two teams based on the Nations League overall ranking that finish outside the top two of their qualifying group join the group runners-up to make it 12 teams drawn into three paths, playing two rounds of single-match ties in each path (semi-finals and final, with the home teams to be drawn), for the remaining three places.[9][10]

North and Central America and Caribbean[edit]

The 2022 CONCACAF qualification process changed significantly from the 2018 qualification cycle. There are two separate preliminary group stages, one containing the five highest-ranked teams and another for the 29 lowest-ranked teams, based on the July 2020 FIFA rankings. The first round will have the remaining 29 teams divided into six groups of five teams. The winners of each group will advance to a knockout phase to be played in a two-legged home-and-away series. The three knockout phase winners advance to the third round which will have eight teams involved, five of which are already qualified due to the July 2020 rankings, to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The top three teams advance to the World Cup finals, while the fourth-placed side will enter the inter-continental play-offs.

Oceania[edit]

Qualification in Oceania has yet to be finalised, but the following could be like this: The first stage will take place with two groups, one with five teams and the other with six. The top two in each group advance to the second stage where four teams contest a knockout phase, to be played in a two-legged home-and-away series. The two semi-final winners enter a two-legged final. The winner of this final advances to an inter-confederation play-off for a World Cup spot.

South America[edit]

As in the previous qualification series CONMEBOL qualification consists of a single group of all entrants. Unlike qualifying tournaments where the fixtures were pre-determined as applied until the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, the fixtures were determined by a draw held on 17 December 2019.[11]

The top four 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-offs[edit]

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 rules[edit]

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

Groups[edit]

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 ties[edit]

Most knock-out qualifiers (such as the inter-confederation play-offs 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 also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fifa makes major policy shift". BBC News. 30 November 2001.
  2. ^ "Current allocation of FIFA World Cup confederation slots maintained" (Press release). FIFA. 30 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Africa calls for FIFA to increase World Cup places". Ahram Online. Reuters. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ "World Cup could expand to 48 teams, Fifa's Gianni Infantino suggests". The Guardian. 3 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Fifa approves Infantino's plan to expand World Cup to 48 teams from 2026". The Guardian. 10 January 2017.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "Game changer: group stage for UEFA Women's Champions League". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 4 December 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  10. ^ "2022 World Cup qualifying: all you need to know". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 9 December 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  11. ^ "FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers: draws to take centre stage in South America and Africa". FIFA.com. FIFA. 11 December 2019.

External links[edit]