The 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification was the qualifying process which decided the 31 teams that would join hosts Qatar, who received an automatic spot, at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Parallel tournaments were organised by FIFA’s six confederations. Qualification started on 6 June 2019 with several matches of the AFC zone, the first being between Mongolia and Brunei, and ended on 14 June 2022 with an inter-confederation play-off between Costa Rica and New Zealand. Mongolian player Norjmoogiin Tsedenbal netted the first goal, while the last one was scored by Joel Campbell of Costa Rica. In contrast to previous editions, there was no general preliminary draw, with confederations carrying out separate draws due to their differing timelines. The qualification process suffered numerous postponements from March 2020 onwards due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s edition will be the first tournament hosted in the Middle East and the first to be held at the end of the calendar year, in November and December.
Eight stadiums will host the event across five cities in Qatar: Lusail, Al Khor, Al Rayyan, Al Wakrah and Doha.
How many teams are in the World Cup?
The 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar will be the last to feature 32 teams before the field expands to 48 teams for the 2026 World Cup. The FIFA men’s World Cup has involved 32 teams for the last six editions, since France 1998.
Joining host nation Qatar at the tournament will be 31 other countries that have earned a ticket through regional qualifying matches. Each region was provided a set number of qualifying berths by world governing body FIFA, which organizes the World Cup:
- Africa (CAF): 5
- Asia (AFC): 4 (plus 1 playoff qualifier)
- Europe (UEFA): 13
- North/Central America & Caribbean (CONCACAF): 3 (plus 1 playoff qualifier)
- Oceania (OFC): 1 playoff qualifier
- South America (CONMEBOL): 4 (plus 1 playoff qualifier)
The four playoff qualifiers in the list above participated in two intercontinental playoff matches played in June 2022, featuring one nation from each of four different regions. Those matchups determined the final two qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup: Asia vs. South America, and North America vs. Oceania.
- Asia vs. South America: Australia (3rd in Asian qualifying group) beat Peru (5th in South America) in a penalty shootout on June 13 to claim a place in Qatar. The Socceroos, into their fifth straight World Cup, defeated the United Arab Emirates 2-1 in an Asian confederation playoff just to earn the chance to face Peru.
- North America vs. Oceania: Costa Rica (4th place in North America) advanced to the World Cup after beating New Zealand (Oceania winner) 1-0 on June 14 for the final ticket to Qatar. The Ticos joined Germany, Spain and Japan in Group E.
The final European World Cup berth was also determined in June 2022. Wales beat Ukraine 1-0 in a single-elimination playoff final on June 5. (Wales and Ukraine defeated Austria and Scotland, respectively, to reach the final.) The final European qualifying spot was pushed to the June window after Ukraine requested the postponement from the original March date due to the Russian invasion of the country.
When does the World Cup start?
- Inaugural match: Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022
- World Cup final: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will kick off on a Sunday — a day earlier than originally scheduled — with hosts Qatar facing Ecuador in the opening Group A match at the Al Bayt Stadium.
The World Cup final will also be held on a Sunday, as per tradition. The trophy will be hoisted by the winner on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.
Which teams have qualified for the World Cup?
A total of 32 teams have officially qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including the host nation. The final two spots were filled by the intercontinental playoff winners on June 13 and June 14.
In addition to host nation Qatar, there were 13 nations to qualify from Europe, four from South America, four from Asia, five from Africa, four from North America, and Australia, which is a member of the Asian confederation.
The table below features the full 32-team field for the 2022 World Cup, including the date each nation clinched a berth and how they did it.
|Region||Date qualified||How qualified||WC apps||Titles (Last)|
|1||Qatar (51)||Asia||Dec. 2, 2010||Hosts||1 of 22||—|
|2||Germany (12)||Europe||Oct. 11, 2021||1st – Grp. J||20 of 22||4 (2014)|
|3||Denmark (11)||Europe||Oct. 12, 2021||1st – Grp. F||6 of 22||—|
|4||Brazil (1)||S. America||Nov. 11, 2021||Top 4||22 of 22||5 (2002)|
|5||France (3)||Europe||Nov. 13, 2021||1st – Grp. D||16 of 22||2 (2018)|
|6||Belgium (2)||Europe||Nov. 13, 2021||1st – Grp. E||14 of 22||—|
|7||Croatia (16)||Europe||Nov. 14, 2021||1st – Grp. H||6 of 22||—|
|8||Spain (7)||Europe||Nov. 14, 2021||1st – Grp. B||16 of 22||1 (2010)|
|9||Serbia (25)||Europe||Nov. 14, 2021||1st – Grp. A||4 of 22||—|
|10||England (5)||Europe||Nov. 15, 2021||1st – Grp. I||16 of 22||1 (1966)|
|11||Switzerland (14)||Europe||Nov. 15, 2021||1st – Grp. C||12 of 22||—|
|12||Netherlands (10)||Europe||Nov. 16, 2021||1st – Grp. G||11 of 22||—|
|13||Argentina (4)||S America||Nov. 16, 2021||Top 4||18 of 22||2 (1986)|
|14||Iran (21)||Asia||Jan. 27, 2022||Top 2 – Grp. A||6 of 22||—|
|15||South Korea (29)||Asia||Feb. 1, 2022||Top 2 – Grp. A||11 of 22||—|
|16||Japan (23)||Asia||Mar. 24, 2022||Top 2 – Grp. B||7 of 22||—|
|17||Saudi Arabia (49)||Asia||Mar. 24, 2022||Top 2 – Grp. B||6 of 22||—|
|18||Ecuador (46)||S. America||Mar. 24 2022||Top 4||4 of 22||—|
|19||Uruguay (13)||S. America||Mar. 24, 2022||Top 4||14 of 22||2 (1950)|
|20||Canada (38)||N. America||Mar. 27, 2022||Top 3||2 of 22||—|
|21||Ghana (60)||Africa||Mar. 29, 2022||Playoff||4 of 22||—|
|22||Senegal (20)||Africa||Mar. 29, 2022||Playoff||3 of 22||—|
|23||Portugal (8)||Europe||Mar. 29, 2022||Playoff||8 of 22||—|
|24||Poland (26)||Europe||Mar. 29, 2022||Playoff||9 of 22||—|
|25||Tunisia (35)||Africa||Mar. 29, 2022||Playoff||6 of 22||—|
|26||Morocco (24)||Africa||Mar. 29, 2022||Playoff||6 of 22||—|
|27||Cameroon (37)||Africa||Mar. 29, 2022||Playoff||8 of 22||—|
|28||USA (15)||N. America||Mar. 30, 2022||Top 3||11 of 22||—|
|29||Mexico (9)||N. America||Mar. 30, 2022||Top 3||17 of 22||—|
|30||Wales (18)||Europe||June 5, 2022||Playoff||2 of 22||—|
|31||Australia (42)||Asia||June 13, 2022||Intercont’l
|6 of 22||—|
|32||Costa Rica (31)||N. America||June 14, 2022||Intercont’l
|6 of 22||—|
World Cup Group Draw
These were the results of the group-stage draw, conducted in Doha, Qatar on April 1.
|Group A||A1: Qatar||A2: Ecuador||A3: Senegal||A4: Netherlands|
|Group B||B1: England||B2: Iran||B3: USA||B4: Wales|
|Group C||C1: Argentina||C2: Saudi Arabia||C3: Mexico||C4: Poland|
|Group D||D1: France||D2: Australia||D3: Denmark||D4: Tunisia|
|Group E||E1: Spain||E2: Costa Rica||E3: Germany||E4: Japan|
|Group F||F1: Belgium||F2: Canada||F3: Morocco||F4: Croatia|
|Group G||G1: Brazil||G2: Serbia||G3: Switzerland||G4: Cameroon|
|Group H||H1: Portugal||H2: Ghana||H3: Uruguay||H4: South Korea|
World Cup Draw Pots
On March 31 FIFA released their updated FIFA World Rankings, which were used to sort the teams into separate pots ahead of the draw held on April 1. Each 2022 World Cup group consists of one team from each of the four pots below.
The top eight teams in the World Rankings (as of March 31) went into Pot 1, the next best eight teams into Pot 2 and so on. Pot 4 also contained the three placeholders for the spots yet to be claimed. This process helped ensure there is competitive balance across the groups.
(FIFA World Ranking on March 31, 2022 added in parentheses below. *Qatar was included in Pot 1 as the host nation, which is a FIFA tradition at World Cup events.)
|Pot 1||Pot 2||Pot 3||Pot 4|
|Qatar (51)*||Mexico (9)||Senegal (20)||Cameroon (37)|
|Brazil (1)||Netherlands (10)||Iran (21)||Canada (38)|
|Belgium (2)||Denmark (11)||Japan (23)||Ecuador (46)|
|France (3)||Germany (12)||Morocco (24)||Saudi Arabia (49)|
|Argentina (4)||Uruguay (13)||Serbia (25)||Ghana (60)|
|England (5)||Switzerland (14)||Poland (26)||Intercont’l Playoff 1 (Australia)|
|Spain (7)||USA (15)||South Korea (29)||Intercont’l Playoff 2 (Costa Rica)|
|Portugal (8)||Croatia (16)||Tunisia (35)||Euro Playoff (Wales)|