World Cup 2022: European qualifying draw explained

World Cup 2022: European qualifying draw explained
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is just around the corner, but the small matter of qualification still has to be decided for European teams such as England, France and Belgium. With 13 entrants, UEFA has the most representatives at FIFA's flagship tournament, but those 13 teams have to be whittled down from a total of 55.

When is the World Cup 2022 qualifying draw for European teams?

The World Cup 2022 European qualifying draw takes place on Monday December 7 at 5pm GMT (12 noon ET).

It is set to take place as a virtual event, due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel restrictions, with the ceremony itself being held at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

What are the World Cup 2022 UEFA seeding pots?

Pot 1 - Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands

Pot 2 - Switzerland, Poland, Wales, Austria, Ukraine, Sweden, Serbia, Turkey, Slovakia, Romania

Pot 3 - Russia, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greece, Finland

Pot 4 - Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Israel, Belarus, Georgia, Luxembourg

Pot 5 - Armenia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia, Andorra

Pot 6 - Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, San Marino

Fifty-five participating teams from UEFA have been divided into six seeding pots for the purposes of the World Cup draw.

The top European seeds for the World Cup 2022 qualifying draw are: Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.

Wales are in Pot 2, while Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are in Pot 3.

Seeding pots were confirmed on November 27, following the publication of the November 2020 FIFA world ranking.

How does the World Cup 2022 qualifying draw work?

Each seeding pot will be emptied and assigned to a group (from Group A to Group J) accordingly, beginning with Pot 1, then Pot 2 and so forth.

There will be five groups of five teams and five groups of six teams.

The UEFA Nations League 2020-21 finalists - Belgium, France, Italy and Spain - will be drawn into a group with five teams (Groups A to E).

Since Pot 6 features just five teams, these teams will be drawn into the sixth position in Groups F to J.

It should be noted that some restrictions are in place for the draw.

The following teams cannot be paired together:

  • Armenia & Azerbaijan
  • Gibraltar & Spain
  • Kosovo & Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Kosovo & Serbia
  • Kosovo & Russia
  • Ukraine & Russia

The following clubs are deemed a risk of severe winter conditions, so a maximum of two such teams can be drawn in a group together:

  • Belarus
  • Estonia
  • Faroe Islands*
  • Finland
  • Iceland*
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Ukraine

*Iceland and Faroe Islands cannot be drawn in the same group since both teams are in the highest risk category.

Excessive travel restrictions are in place too, with a maximum of one pair of particular teams in certain cases:

  • Azerbaijan with: Iceland, Gibraltar, Portugal.
  • Iceland with: Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia, Israel.
  • Kazakhstan with: Andorra, England, Faroe Islands, France, Gibraltar, Iceland, Malta, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Wales.

How can I watch the World Cup 2022 qualifying draw?

The World Cup 2022 European qualifying draw can be watched live online worldwide via FIFA's official website - fifa.com - and on the networks of FIFA's broadcast partners.

It can also be streamed live online through UEFA's official website - uefa.com.

Goal will also be covering the draw live and you will be able to stay tuned to all the reaction with us.

When does the World Cup 2022 European qualifying start?

The European qualification stage for the 2022 World Cup kicks off in March 2021 and runs until November 2021, with play-offs then taking place in March 2021.

  • Matchday 1: March 24-25, 2021
  • Matchday 2: March 27-28, 2021
  • Matchday 3: March 30-31, 2021
  • Matchday 4: September 1-2, 2021
  • Matchday 5: September 4-5, 2021
  • Matchday 6: September 7-8, 2021
  • Matchday 7: October 8-9, 2021
  • Matchday 8: October 11-12, 2021
  • Matchday 9: November 11-13, 2021
  • Matchday 10: November 14-16, 2021
  • Play-offs: March 24, 25, 28, 29, 2022

A total of 13 teams qualify for the 2022 World Cup from the UEFA qualification section: the 10 group winners and three teams from the play-off route.

The 10 group runners-up progress to the play-off stage along with the best two group winners from the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League.

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