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How The World Cup Selection Process Works

With so many countries vying for a place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it is no surprise the qualifications began back in June 2019. It involves 206 countries (it is usually 215, but 8 countries either withdrew or were suspended) across 6 confederations. The qualifications decide the 31 teams who will join the hosts in the tournament.

The 2022 World Cup will be hosted by Qatar, which is a small country located on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. There are 8 stadiums where the games will be played, spread across 5 host cities. All World Cup matches will be played in Qatar, but the qualifying games have been held all over the world, across all the Confederations.

The Confederations are listed below with information on how many teams qualified as well as who.

AFC (Asian Football Confederation)

46 teams are a part of the AFC, with the host nation Qatar automatically qualifying for the tournament. 40 teams were eliminated. 5 teams plus the hosts have qualified. (Qatar, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Japan, Australia). Australia and the United Arab Emirates vied for 5th place and went onto the fourth round, which Australia won. So, the Socceroos in the World Cup is a welcome addition. The first two qualifying rounds were also used for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifications, in which Qatar did have to participate.

CAF (Confederation of African Football)

54 teams are a part of the CAF. 49 teams were eliminated. 5 teams have qualified (Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, and Tunisia) CAF used the knockout format for their qualifying matches.

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CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football)

34 teams are a part of the CONCACAF. 30 teams were eliminated. 4 teams have qualified (Canada, Mexico, United States, and Costa Rica). Costa Rica played against New Zealand in the inter-confederation play-offs and won to secure qualification.

CONMEBOL (South American Football Confederation)

10 teams are a part of the CONBEBOL. 6 teams were eliminated. 4 teams have qualified (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador). Peru went up against Australia in the inter-confederation play-offs but were eliminated.

OFC (Oceania Football Confederation)

7 teams are a part of the OFC and all 7 teams were eliminated. New Zealand won the final but lost to Costa Rica in the inter-confederation play-offs and were thus eliminated.

UEFA (Union of European Football Associations)

55 teams are a part of the UEFA. 42 teams were eliminated, and 13 teams qualified (Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Croatia, England, Germany, Wales, Poland, Portugal). The last four teams listed had to move onto the second round. 12 teams were involved in these play-offs and were divided into three groups each with two single-leg semi-finals and one single-leg final. Poland automatically got into the finals with a walkover, because Russia were suspended from the tournament.

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This equals a total of 31 teams plus the host team. Each confederation decides on its format for qualifying matches and can choose from either league format or knockout format, where two teams play two-legged tie matches, with the home-and-away system for both legs. An aggregate score is then used to determine the winner. In the event of a tie, the team with the most away goals advances. If that is equal then extra time or a penalty shootout is implemented to determine the winner.


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