2022 FIFA World Cup qualification
The 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification process is a series of tournaments organised by the six FIFA confederations to decide 31 of the 32 teams that will play in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with Qatar qualifying automatically as hosts. All 210 remaining FIFA member associations are eligible to enter the qualifying process.
Qualifiers opened in June 2019 with Mongolian player Norjmoogiin Tsedenbal scoring the first goal of qualification on 6 June. Unlike previous tournaments, it was agreed that there will be no general preliminary draw, with various draws to be held separately due to different timelines used by each confederation.
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The 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers began in June 2019 and are expected to finish in June 2022.
Qualification processNot all regional federations have announced their qualification process for the 2022 World Cup. All FIFA member associations, of which there are currently 211, are eligible to enter qualification. Qatar, as hosts, qualified automatically for the tournament. However, Qatar is obliged by the AFC to participate in the Asian qualifying stage as the first two rounds also act as qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. If they finish as winners or runners-up in their group, the fifth-best group runners-up will advance instead. For the first time after the initial two tournaments of 1930 and 1934, the World Cup will be hosted by a country whose national team has never played a finals match before. The reigning World Cup champions France will also go through qualifying stages as normal.
The allocation of slots for each confederation was discussed by the FIFA Executive Committee on 30 May 2015 in Zürich after the FIFA Congress. The committee decided that the same allocation used in 2006, 2010 and 2014 would be kept for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments:
- AFC : 4 or 5
- CAF : 5
- CONCACAF : 3 or 4
- CONMEBOL : 4 or 5
- OFC : 0 or 1
- UEFA : 13
- Hosts: 1
Summary of qualification
FormatThe formats of the qualifying competitions depended on each confederation . Each round might be played in either of the following formats:
- League format, where more than two teams formed groups to play home-and-away round-robin matches, or in exceptions permitted by the FIFA Organising Committee, single round-robin matches hosted by one of the participating teams or on neutral territory.
- Knockout format, where two teams played home-and-away two-legged matches or single-legged matches.
- Overall goal difference
- Overall goals scored
- Points in matches between tied teams
- Goal difference in matches between tied teams
- Goals scored in matches between tied teams
- Away goals scored in matches between tied teams
- Fair play points
- * first yellow card: minus 1 point
- * indirect red card : minus 3 points
- * direct red card: minus 4 points
- * yellow card and direct red card: minus 5 points
- Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee
In knockout format, the team that has the higher aggregate score over the two legs progresses to the next round. In the event that aggregate scores finish level, the away goals rule is applied; i.e., the team that scored more goals away from home over the two legs progresses. If away goals are also equal, then thirty minutes of extra time are played, divided into two fifteen-minutes halves. The away goals rule is again applied after extra time; i.e., if there are goals scored during extra time and the aggregate score is still level, the visiting team qualifies by virtue of more away goals scored. If no goals are scored during extra time, the tie is decided by penalty shoot-out.
AFCThe opening two rounds of qualifying also serve as qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. Therefore, Qatar, the 2022 FIFA World Cup host, only participates in these first two rounds of qualifying.
The qualification structure is as follows:
- First round: 12 teams played home-and-away over two legs. The six winners advanced to the second round.
- Second round: 40 teams were divided into eight groups of five teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The eight group winners and the four best group runners-up advance to the third round of FIFA World Cup qualification and also qualify for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. If Qatar finish as winners in their group or as one of the four best runners-up, the fifth-best runners-up will go to the third round in their stead.
- Third round: The 12 teams that advance from the second round will be divided into two groups of 6 teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The top two teams of each group will qualify for the World Cup, and the third-placed teams will play against each other over two legs. The winner will advance to the inter-confederation play-offs, playing a team from a confederation to be determined.
Current stage (second round)
CAFCAF announced on 10 July 2019 a reversion to the format used for its 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification competition.
- First round: 28 teams played home-and-away over two legs. The 14 winners advanced to the second round.
- Second round: 40 teams will be divided into 10 groups of four teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The 10 group winners will advance to the third round.
- Third round: The 10 teams that advance from the second round will play home-and-away over two legs. The five winners will qualify for the World Cup.
Current stage (second round)
Original formatCONCACAF announced on 10 July 2019 a restructured format for the qualifiers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It was planned to commence in September 2020.
- Top-seeded Hexagonal group: The top 6 ranked CONCACAF teams based on the FIFA rankings of June 2020 would have played home-and-away round-robin matches in one single group. The top three teams were to qualify for the World Cup, and the fourth-placed team was to advance to the CONCACAF play-off round.
- Lower-seeded group stage and knockout stage: The remaining CONCACAF teams would have been divided into eight groups to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The winners of each group were to advance to a knockout stage, consisting of the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final to be played in a two-legged home-and-away series. The winner of the knockout stage was to advance to the CONCACAF play-off round.
- Play-off round: The fourth-placed team of the Hexagonal group would have faced the winner of the knockout stage in order to advance to the inter-confederation play-offs.
New formatOn 27 July 2020, CONCACAF announced a new qualifying format for the World Cup.
- First round: CONCACAF teams ranked 6 to 35 based on the FIFA rankings of July 2020 are drawn into six groups of five and play single round-robin matches, with group winners qualifying for the second round.
- Second round: The six first round group winners will play in a two-legged home-and-away series. The three winners will advance to the final round.
- Final round: The three second round winners will join the top five CONCACAF teams also based on the FIFA rankings of July 2020 and play home-and-away round-robin matches in one single group. The top three teams qualify for the World Cup, and the fourth-placed team advances to the inter-confederation play-offs.
OFCQualifying was expected to begin in September 2020, but the FIFA international window in that month for the OFC was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Later on 28 July 2020, the OFC announced that they had submitted a proposal to FIFA for the qualifiers in response to the pandemic.
- First round: The 11 OFC teams will be split into two groups based on their FIFA Ranking, and play round-robin matches in March and June 2021 at centralized locations. The top two teams of each group advance to the second round.
- Second round: The four teams will play knockout two-legged home-and-away matches, with the semi-finals in September 2021 and the final in October. The winner advances to the inter-confederation play-offs.
- First round : 10 groups of 5 or 6 teams with group winners qualifying for the World Cup finals.
- Second round : The 10 group runners-up would be joined by the best 2 Nations League group winners, based on the Nations League overall ranking, that finished outside the top two of their qualifying group. These 12 teams will be drawn into three play-off paths, playing two rounds of single-match play-offs, with the 3 path winners qualifying for the World Cup.