Teams Eligible For FIFA WC Qualifiers
The FIFA World Cup 2022 is right around the corner. Scheduled to be held in November in Qatar, the fight for the World Cup is already ongoing, with football leagues all over the world beginning their world qualifiers to determine who the best teams are to participate in the top football competition in the world. But how exactly do they do that?
In this article, we’ll be guiding you through how each confederation all over the world ascertains the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Teams Eligible For FIFA WC Qualifiers
Newbie football fans and enthusiasts may ask if just any football team can play in the World Cup. The answer to that is no. For a football club to be able to play in the World Cup or even to play in the football World Cup qualifiers, they have to be part of their corresponding confederations, which are FIFA member associations. These are the following:
- Confederation of African Football (CAF)
- Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
- Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)
- Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF)
- Oceania Football Confederation (OFC)
- South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL)
The FIFA WC qualifiers are held by each confederation, as this helps create a good structure in determining the best of the best. There are hundreds of clubs in the world, and to have them all compete under one single entity like FIFA is inevitably chaotic. Thus, they delegated the competition to the FIFA confederations.
How do teams from each confederation qualify for the World Cup?
Each confederation has its own structure and format in order to determine which teams are good enough to qualify for the World Cup. It also tends to vary from year to year as the number of teams competing can alter and tweak some format or another per each confederation. But ultimately, they are similar in form.
First rounds often involve teams within a single confederation, and second rounds are where teams from different confederations converge and compete. Third rounds determine the winners and qualifiers for the World Cup, and the fourth is considered as the inter-confederation play-offs.
For Asia, there are four rounds:
- First Round: In the first round, 12 clubs will compete home-and-away in a two-legged tie. Half of the teams who competed (the winners) will advance to the second round.
- Second round: The six teams who won from the first round will compete with 34 others, including the host nation (Qatar for 2022). They are divided into eight groups made up of five teams to compete in round-robin home-and-away games. The seven winners to win in each group and the five runner-ups will advance to the third round.
- Third round: The seven winners and five runner-ups from the second round are categorised into two groups composed of six teams to compete in another home-and-away round-robin games. The winners from the two teams are the ones qualified to compete in the World Cup.
- Fourth round: The fourth round is for the determination of the final two spots for the FIFA World CUP. It is also known as the inter-confederation playoffs.
For Africa, there are three rounds. For the 2022 FIFA World Cup, CAF used the same format they followed in the 2014 World Cup.
- First round: In the first round, 28 teams will compete home-and-away in a two-legged tie. Half of the teams who competed (the winners) will advance to the second round.
- Second round: The 14 winners from the first round will compete with 26 others, including the host nation (Qatar for 2022). They are divided into ten groups made up of four teams to compete in round-robin home-and-away games. The ten winners to win in each group will advance to the third round.
- Third round: The ten winners from the second round are to compete in another home-and-away round-robin games. The five winners are the ones qualified to compete in the World Cup.
For CONCACAF, they utilised a different format for the World Cup qualifiers composed of three rounds.
- First round: The CONCACAF teams that were ranked 6 to 35 during the 2020 FIFA rankings are categorised into six groups of five. They are set to compete in single round-robin matches, two home and two away. The winners for each group will advance to the second round.
- Second round: The six winners will compete in two-legged home-and-away games, and the winners from these will move to the third round.
- Third round: The three winners will compete with the top five CONCACAF teams, namely Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, and the USA. The top three teams will be able to compete in the World Cup. The fourth placer will play in the inter-confederation playoffs.
UEFA has its own structure divided into two rounds: the group’s stage and the playoff stage.
- Group stage: Five or six teams are categorised into ten groups. The winners from this round will advance to the World Cup finals.
- Playoff stage: The runner-ups from the ten groups, in addition to the two Nations League winners, will compete in single-match playoffs with only two rounds. Three winners from this stage will qualify for the World Cup.
CONMEBOL retains the same structure they had used before:
The ten CONMEBOL teams will compete in home-and-away round-robin matches, and the first to fourth-placed teams are the ones qualified for the World Cup. The fifth-placed team will compete for the inter-confederation playoffs.
OFC starts off with a qualification match between the lowest-ranked teams. The winner from this match advances to the group stage, where eight teams are divided into two groups and will compete in the single round-robin. The winners and the first runner-ups from the two groups will qualify for a semi-final match, and the winners will play a single-leg final. The winner is then qualified for the inter-confederation playoffs.
For the inter-confederation playoffs, the matches will determine the two final qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup. Four teams who have qualified to the inter-confederation playoffs from their respective confederations (AFC, OFC, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL) will play single-leg knockout matches, with the games to be held in Qatar.
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