World Cup 2022: Who is in? Who is out?

Aaron E, Editor-in-Chief

Every four years, the world bans together, turning their attention to one sport: soccer.. This year there is a new rendition of the World Cup. The World Cup is an international soccer tournament organized by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). There are 32 national soccer teams that compete to lift the most valuable trophy in all of sports. Teams from the likes of tiny Qatar and Costa Rica go up against giants like Argentina and England. 

Before competing in the World Cup, each team first has to qualify for the tournament. In Europe, 13 teams have the chance to qualify for the World Cup. Additionally, each European national team is drawn into 10 different groups with 5 teams participating in each group. Group A gave Serbia and Portugal a slot in the World Cup. Spain qualified in group B and Switzerland qualified in group C. France dominated group D and Belgium and Wales squeaked out of group E. Denmark topped Group F with ease in an easy pool. The Netherlands made it out of Group G, but one of the most exciting players in the world, Erling Haaland, failed to qualify with his Norweigan side. A Luka Modric led Croatian team took group H with ease, and England and Poland made it out of Group I. Last but not least, Germany qualified out of the final group, Group J.

In South America, only 4 teams have the chance to qualify for the World Cup due to a smaller number of teams-and countries-across the continent. However, the South American teams don’t have groups and instead play 20 matches. At the end of those matches, the top 4 teams will automatically place in the World Cup. In addition to that, the fifth place team will participate in a playoff between other countries that didn’t get an automatic slot in the tournament. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Ecuador got the guaranteed spots in the tournament while Peru had to go to an international playoff, but they failed to qualify for the World Cup.

The North American, Central American, and Caribbean nations also follow a similar format to Europe, where each team is put into groups. The six group winners are put into a second round where they play 12 matches. The top three teams then advance to the World Cup. The fourth place team is also in a similar playoff format like the fifth place South American team. Canada, Mexico, and the USA were given guaranteed spots in the tournament. Costa Rica was placed in a playoff and won, so they successfully qualified for the World Cup.

In Africa, things start to get more confusing. The African Federation has 54 FIFA affiliated nations. In the first round of qualification, the 28 lowest ranked teams play two games, and the top 14 teams join the other 26 African teams in another round. Those 40 teams were split up into 10 groups of 4. The 10 group winners would land themselves a spot in yet another round of playoffs. The final 10 group winners had to play against each other in a two-legged series, where the winner would qualify for the World Cup. Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana, and Senegal were the five teams to make it to the World Cup. 

The Asian qualification system also shares similarities with the African qualification system. The 12 lowest ranked nations faced off to see who would make it to the next round. The six winners from this round joined the 34 other Asian countries to create eight groups with five teams per group. The eight group winners then advanced to the final round. The final teams faced off to determine who would make it to the World Cup. The four teams that made it to the tournament were Saudi Arabia, Iran, South Korea, and Japan. Qatar also made the tournament because they are the hosts of the tournament. 

Oceania is the last and probably least of the qualifying regions. Only one team from Oceania had a chance to make the tournament. Australia was the team that won in the Oceanic region and went to a playoff. Australia won that playoff series and advanced to the World Cup. 

Now that the teams have been decided for the tournament, they will duke it out for a chance to win the most prestigious award in all of sports. The World Cup gives many soccer athletes the chance to participate in something special.

References

ESPN. “2022 World Cup Qualifying: How it Works Around the World.” ESPN, ESPN Enterprises, Inc., 8 June 2022, www.espn.com/soccer/fifa-world-cup/story/3860182/2022-world-cup-how-qualifying-works-around-the-world.

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