FIFA World Cup qualification

FIFA World Cup Qualification

FIFA World Cup qualification

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FIFA World Cup qualification is the process that a national association football team goes through to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Finals. The FIFA World Cup is a global event, so qualification is required to reduce the large field of participants from about 200 to 32.

Qualifying tournaments are held within the six FIFA continental zones (Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania, Europe), and are organized by their respective confederations. For each tournament, FIFA decides beforehand the number of spots awarded to each of the continental zones, based on the numbers and/or relative strength of the confederations' teams. 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification commenced in 2007 and finished in late 2009.

The hosts of the World Cup receive an automatic berth in the finals. Unlike many other sports, results of the previous World Cups or of the continental championships are not taken into account. Until 2002, the defending champions also received an automatic berth, but starting from the 2006 World Cup this is no longer the case.


Over many years, the World Cup's qualification has evolved, from having no qualification at all in 1930, when the tournament was invitational and only 13 teams entered, to the current two-year process. The first World Cup qualifying match was played on 11 June 1933 when Sweden defeated Estonia 6-2 in Stockholm. The first ever goal in a World Cup qualifying match was scored 7 minutes into the game: it was scored...
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