With FIFA World Cup 2022™ preliminary-competition action already under way in Africa, Asia and South America, UEFA’s 55 member associations are eagerly looking ahead to the start of their own race to reach Qatar 2022, with 13 berths available. Their anticipation will be heightened on 7 December, when the preliminary draw will take place at 18:00 CET in Zurich.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, the ceremony will be held as a virtual event without the presence of member associations’ representatives.
Europe’s road to the FIFA World Cup 2022 will feature a group stage comprising five groups of six teams and five groups of five teams. All teams within a group will play each other twice in a home-and-away format between March and November 2021. The ten group winners will qualify directly for Qatar 2022, with the ten runners-up advancing to the play-offs.
Besides the ten runners-up from the group stage, the play-offs will also include the two best group winners from the UEFA Nations League 2020-2021 overall ranking that did not qualify directly for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and did not enter the play-offs as runners-up. The 12 teams will be split into three play-off paths, which will feature single-leg knockout matches in March 2022 to determine the last three European nations to book a place in Qatar.
For the sake of the preliminary draw, the 55 participating teams will be allocated to six pots – five containing ten teams and one containing five teams – based on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of 26 November 2020.
The ten highest-ranked teams will be allocated to Pot 1, the next ten highest to Pot 2 and so on until the last five remaining teams have been allocated to Pot 6.
The teams drawn will be allocated to a group in alphabetical order, from Group A to Group J (i.e. the first team drawn will be allocated to Group A, the second team to Group B and so forth). When a draw constraint applies or is anticipated to apply, the team drawn will be allocated to the first available group in alphabetical order as indicated by the draw constraint programme.
As Pot 6 will only contain five teams, these teams will be drawn into the sixth position in groups F to J.
Fans around the world will be able to follow the draw live on FIFA.com and through FIFA’s broadcast partners.