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As the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off on November 21st, 209 teams will be vying for one of the final 32 World Cup qualification slots. The 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts, Qatar, have already qualified for the tournament.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification process kicked off on June 6, 2019, with the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers beginning on June 6, 2019. To provide teams with the opportunity to compete for qualification to the FIFA World Cup finals over a three-year cycle, the six FIFA confederations – CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean) – CONMEBOL (South America), OFC (Oceania), UEFA (Europe), CAF (Africa), and AFC (Asia) organize parallel tournaments.
On November 11, 2021, the next round of World Cup qualifications will begin. In this section, we explore the workings of the FIFA World Cup, its history, and the qualification procedure for teams to participate.
A total of how many teams can make it through the FIFA World Cup?
To qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals since 1998, 211 men’s national football teams associated with FIFA must compete over a two-year period. FIFA World Cup qualification began in 1934 when the maximum number of competitors was increased from 13 to 16 for the first time in the tournament’s history.
From 1934 through 1978, a 16-team qualifying format was in use. Between 1982 and 1994, the upper limit was raised to 24 and starting in 1998, it was raised to 32. The FIFA Council voted in January 2017 to raise the FIFA World Cup to 48 participants, beginning with the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The host nation has received automatic qualifying to the final event since the 1938 FIFA World Cup.
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Format
A league (home and away round-robin matches) or a knockout format are used to select teams for the FIFA World Cup. Should a tie occur involving two or more teams, the following procedure will apply:
Team discipline (yellow/red card) will be taken into account while reviewing the Fair Play points system.
If the combined score over two legs is equal, the tie advances into extra time. Penalty shootouts are used if there are no goals after extra time.
Each confederation’s qualification procedure has a varied framework, with many rounds to restrict the final entrants to the allowed number of participants.
The 35 FIFA-affiliated nations of CONCACAF can send three teams and one from the intercontinental match to the World Cup finals. The 2022 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF qualifications kicked out in March 2021 and therefore will end in June 2022 with the finals in March 2022. The CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers will feature three rounds.
Four teams from the ten FIFA-affiliated CONMEBOL nations, plus one from the intercontinental play-off, can compete for the World Cup finals. This year’s CONMEBOL FIFA World Cup qualifying started in October 2020 and therefore will end in March 2022.
OFC’s 11 FIFA-affiliated nations can only send one intercontinental playoff champion to the World Cup finals. The dates for the OFC World Cup qualifiers and the intercontinental play-offs have been tentatively scheduled for January and March, respectively, in 2022. OFC qualifiers will be held in two stages.
There are 13 spots available in the World Cup finals for the 55 FIFA-affiliated UEFA member countries. The 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Europe will take place over the course of one year, beginning in March 2021 and concluding in March 2022. Part I and Part II of the European World Cup qualifiers are both held in Europe.
FIFA-affiliated CAF members can send five teams to the World Cup finals. FIFA’s 2022 World Cup qualifications in Africa began in September 2019 and therefore will end in March 2022. The African World Cup qualifications will be played over three rounds.
The 46 FIFA-affiliated members of the AFC can send four teams to the World Cup finals, plus one from the intercontinental play-off. From 2019 through 2022, the AFC World Cup qualifiers will be held in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
The Asia World Cup qualifiers for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup would have joint qualifiers in two of the four rounds.