A year go, 203 countries began the long and winding process of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. That number has decreased to around 45 who still have a realistic chance of reaching the 32-team group stage of the tournament. To add to the drama, each regional federation has their own way of determining which countries will qualify.
As the excitement nears its global peak, let’s take a look at how things stand around the world right now.
Countries highlighted in blue have confirmed their qualification or currently occupy a qualifying berth. Countries highlighted in white could qualify via the play-offs, with the remaining nations failing to qualify.
UEFA have the most straightforward qualification process, set up in a similar way to the opening stage of the World Cup tournament itself. With 13 qualifying berths available, the 53 nations are divided up into nine groups, eight with six teams and one with five. The winner of each group will qualify automatically and the remaining four spaces are decided by play-offs between the eight best second-placed sides. UEFA have confirmed five nations so far, with reigning champions Spain among those hoping to book their tickets early next week.
North & Central America & The Caribbean
CONCACAF took UEFA’s group stage model and tinkered with it a little. The top six seeded teams receive byes for the first two rounds of qualifying to give the less-established nations a chance at playing in the greatest show on Earth. Four groups have been whittled down to one group of six nations, and the top three teams will qualify automatically. The fourth-placed team will enter an intercontinental play-off against the qualifier from Oceania.
With Australia bizarrely included in the Asian qualifying group, New Zealand will be waiting for the fourth-placed CONCACAF side, currently Mexico. They are the only team to qualify from this federation.
The AFC have completed their qualifying, with four teams automatically entering the group stage and another facing a play-off against the fifth-placed South American nation.
CONMEBOL have a reduced number of qualifying spots available due to Brazil’s automatic entry as hosts. The nine remaining nations have entered a round-robin group, with two countries confirming their qualification so far.
The CAF have three rounds of qualifying matches for their 52 nations, with the final round consisting of head-to-head home and away matches between the 10 round two winners. The first leg of three of these ties has been played so far, which leaves the final standings wide open. All 10 nations involved are highlighted.
These infographics were designed with Piktochart. Feedback is always welcome.