One of the thrilling events that most people are looking forward to during this pandemic period is the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup that will be held in Qatar.
Almost eleven months from now, the World Cup will commence starting on November 11 next year. At least 32 national teams will battle for supremacy of becoming the best football team in the world.
Before moving to the official part of the tournament, 209 teams from all over the world will compete first to gain a spot in the knockout stage. A three-year qualification period must be done first to carefully select the teams that will compete in the tournament proper.
During this period, each of the federations from each continent are simultaneously holding their qualification tournaments for the World Cup. In this piece, we will take a closer look at the European side of things. Shall we?
Starting from 1998, at the end of the qualification process of two years that involves the 211 FIFA men’s national football teams from all over the world, they are reduced to 32 qualified teams to compete for the finals of the World Cup.
The qualification process was first introduced in the 1934 FIFA World Cup that was held in Italy. The limitation for the qualified teams was 13 and was changed to 16 until 1978. However, starting from 1998, it was expanded to its current limit of 32 teams.
The FIFA Council officially announced that they will be expanding the teams that will be qualified to 48 starting in the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The host nation has been receiving an automatic qualification since its introduction in the 1938 edition.
Each football confederation has its own format of qualification process depending on the circumstances and situations of the federation. The multiple round format is customized to adapt to the given amount of final participants to each confederation.
FIFA’s affiliated governing body for the football affairs in Europe is the UEFA or the Union of European Football Associations. The qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup is a one-year process that are participated by the 55 members of the UEFA.
Europe was given at least 13 spots for national teams to compete with other teams from other federations for the World Cup title.
The format for the World Cup qualifiers was divided into two sections.
During the Group Stage, all of the teams are organized into groups of ten, with each group composed of five to six national teams. A round-robin format was applied in the qualification process with a scheduled 10 match days for the group stage.
During the Play-off Stage, the runners-up from each respective group will be joined by two of the winners from UEFA Nations League finals in a knock-out battle of semi and a final. The three winners from the play-offs along with the ten winners from each respective group will fill up the 13 spots needed to be qualified for the World Cup.
Current Qualified Teams
The current edition of the FIFA World Cup is almost done in its qualification process. The ten match days were held from March 24 and ended in November 2021. The ongoing play-off stage will determine the final three teams that will fill up the three spots for the 13 qualified teams for the World Cup.
Currently, the ten winners from the ten groups in the group stage are automatically qualified to participate in the World Cup. The qualified teams are as follows: France, Spain, England, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Croatia, Switzerland, and Serbia.
Europe is considered as the epicenter of football activity around the world, this is why it is no surprising that the number of allotted qualified teams for the FIFA World Cup from the territory is bigger than other confederations.