During a second meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee on Thursday, the draw procedure for the European Qualifiers 2021/22 leading to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar was approved – pending final confirmation from FIFA.
There will see ten groups – five groups of six and five groups of five – compete in home and away matches.
The ten group winners will be qualified directly whereas the ten group runners-up will progress to the play-offs, where they will be joined by two teams from the UEFA Nations League, to determine the last three qualified European teams for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The 55 teams involved in the draw are classified on the basis of the FIFA Rankings.
➢ Based on these rankings, the 55 teams are divided into 6 pots.
➢ Pots 1 to 5 contain each 10 teams and Pot 6 contains the last 5 remaining teams.
Malta will probably be in Pot 6 as it currently lies third from bottom among European countries in the FIFA Rankings.
The four UEFA Nations League finalist teams will play the two final matches of this competition in September or October 2021. As a consequence, these four teams have only eight match days available for European Qualifiers group stage matches and must each be allocated to one group of five teams.
The following draw conditions apply:
The 4 teams participating in the UEFA Nations League Finals 2021 are drawn into a group with 5 teams (Groups A-E). In addition, a group of 5 teams (Groups A-E) can contain a maximum of one UEFA Nations League finalist team. The UEFA Nations League finalist teams are the four League A group winners and will be known at the conclusion of the league phase on 18 November 2020.
The European Qualifiers should be played between March 2021 and March 2022, unless the September, October or November dates would include triple-headers.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held between November 21 and December 18.